Can You Still Receive Unemployment After Losing a Contract Temporary Job?

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Unemployment compensation is based on a percentage of the employee's previous earnings.
Unemployment compensation is based on a percentage of the employee's previous earnings.

A variety of factors impact an individual’s ability to qualify for, apply for and receive unemployment benefits. Unemployment benefits are cash subsidies paid by individual state governments to unemployed workers who were previously employed and terminated by a company that paid for unemployment insurance. Unemployment benefits are finite and recipients must actively look for work during the time they receive benefits. Unemployment benefits and eligibility requirements vary from state to state. In times of high unemployment, benefit periods may be extended.

  1. Unemployment Eligibility

    • According to the Employment Security Department, an individual is typically eligible to receive up to 26 weeks of unemployment benefits if he was laid off from a job he worked at for at least four of the five preceding quarters. In some instances, an individual who is fired without just cause may also be eligible for unemployment benefits. If an individual quits a job, he is usually not entitled to benefits, though he may make a case to his state employment board.

    Independent Contractors

    • Independent contractors or freelancers who are self-employed are not typically eligible for unemployment benefits. This is because independent contractors do not usually pay into the unemployment insurance system and are therefore not insured by any particular company or organization.

    Temporary Contract Jobs

    • Temporary contract jobs, such as seasonal retail help, may be accepted by individuals receiving unemployment without the risk of losing unemployment benefits. Typically, an individual’s unemployment compensation will be reduced or eliminated during the time he is working a temporary position, depending on how much he is earning. Once the temporary contract work ends, he may go back to collecting full unemployment benefits for the duration of his eligibility period, provided he still meets qualifying criteria. A claim that is temporarily halted may need to be reinstated to get payments started again.

    Exception to the Rule

    • An individual who works a temporary contract job before filing for unemployment benefits as the result of job loss from a full-time position may not be eligible to receive benefits. A contract job is typically considered an independent contractor position where the employer is not obligated to pay the independent contractor’s taxes, health benefits or unemployment insurance. A determination of eligibility in this type of case is decided by a state’s unemployment bureau and is based on the length of the temporary contract job and the length of previous full-time employment.

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