How to Collect Unemployment as a Temp Worker

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Woman using laptop in the kitchen. (Image: LWA/Sharie Kennedy/Blend Images/Getty Images)

In most states, temporary or contract employees may collect unemployment benefits if they meet the same requirements as any other worker. However, temporary workers may face particular challenges in establishing and maintaining their eligibility for unemployment. Seasonal workers and independent contractors may not be eligible to collect unemployment in some states.

Determining Job Classification and Employer

In general, if your employer withholds federal employment taxes from your pay, you are an employee rather than an independent contractor and likely are eligible to collect unemployment. The company that paid your wages is your employer, even if you performed work for another company.

Establishing Eligibility and Benefit Amount

Every state sets specific requirements for time worked and/or wages earned to qualify for unemployment benefits and determine your benefit amount. The Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration website provides links to individual state unemployment websites where you can review the guidelines for your state.

Meeting Other Requirements

If you work for a temporary agency, your state may require you to contact the agency regularly to maintain your eligibility for work. You also may have to provide a good reason for turning down any work the agency offers. You must report any temporary assignments you take while collecting unemployment. Any work that you do may affect your current or future eligibility, as well as your benefit amount.

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