How to Receive Unemployment Benefits for Reduced Shifts

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States offer unemployment benefits to help wage earners make ends meet during periods of unemployment. To qualify for unemployment, a worker must lose her job through no fault of her own. The benefits amount is determined based on the employee’s wages as analyzed over the course of four of the last five calendar quarters. Employers don't always lay off workers, however. Sometimes a worker’s hours or shifts are reduced. If this occurs, the worker still may qualify for assistance in the form of partial unemployment insurance.

Remain on your employer's payroll. State partial unemployment laws require you to be “attached” to your employer. This typically means that you were a full-time employee, yet, because of factors you can't control, your hours were significantly reduced.

Contact your state’s workforce division and ask about how your state determines “partial unemployment” and “total unemployment.” You may be eligible to receive unemployment benefits even if you're still working for your employer based on these regulations.

In Texas, for example, you can receive benefits if you're earning 25 percent less than the unemployment benefit you would be entitled to had you lost your job through no fault of your own — known as “total unemployment" — or qualify for partial unemployment if you make more than 25 percent but less than 125 percent of the benefits you would be entitled to if you didn't have a job. Other states, such as Florida, define a reduction in hours as working substantially fewer hours than you were when you worked full time. Although courts haven't provided a firm definition of what constitutes enough of a reduction in hours, the Orange County Bar Association suggests that a 25 percent reduction in work hours probably constitutes enough of a reduction to qualify for partial unemployment benefits.

Analyze your work situation against your state’s partial unemployment benefits requirements. You must meet your state’s partial unemployment benefits regulations to receive unemployment insurance for reduced hours.

Fill out a partial unemployment claims form and submit it to your state’s workforce division. You must provide work and wages information proving that you fall within the state’s partial unemployment claims regulations.

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