The Missouri Department of Labor administers the state's unemployment benefits program by establishing eligibility guidelines and reviewing claims to ensure they meet the guidelines. Federal and state regulations make benefits available to out-of-work employees who need financial help between jobs while limiting the potential for workers to abuse the system. Violations of the guidelines make you ineligible for benefits.
Unemployment benefits in Missouri are for employees whose separation from employment is because of a lack of work or another reason they cannot control. If you quit your job, you usually will be ineligible for unemployment benefits. The state makes an exception if you have "good cause directly attributable to the employer." Leaving for personal reasons, or because you are bored or dissatisfied with your job, for example, generally will not allow you to receive unemployment benefits. On the other hand, mistreatment by your employer, such as verbal abuse or harassment, usually is good cause.
You cannot receive unemployment benefits if your separation from employment happened because of a termination for misconduct. Missouri court rulings have defined misconduct as "wanton or willful" policy or procedural violations. A blatant refusal to follow reasonable work directives is an example of misconduct. Occasional absenteeism, or extended absenteeism because of a legitimate reason such as an illness or family emergency, usually is not misconduct. Isolated poor performances or honest mistakes are not instances of misconduct.
Missouri requires you to have earned a certain amount through employment during the 12 months before the most recently completed calendar quarter. This span is your base period. If you file your claim in July 2011, for example, the most recently completed calendar quarter was April through June 2011. Your base period in that case is April 2010 through March of 2011. To receive unemployment benefits based on 2011 guidelines, you must have made at least $1,500 during one calendar quarter of your base period and at least another $750 during the rest of your base period. In addition, your total base period earnings need to be at least 1.5 times what you made during your most productive quarter. Alternatively, you must have made $19,500 over any two quarters of your base period.
You can accept part-time employment and continue to receive unemployment benefits but at a reduced rate. A failure to report employment income could disqualify you from receiving further benefits. You also are ineligible during any week in which you are unable to work or unavailable to take a job, such as because you are sick or injured or leave town on vacation or for a personal issue. Turning down a job offer also might cause the state to deny you benefits if it determines the work was suitable for your skills, experience and previous income level.
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