Can You File for Unemployment Benefits in New Jersey If Your Hours Are Cut?

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The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development administers the state's unemployment insurance benefits, and claimants can receive 26 weeks of state-federal benefits and may be eligible for extended benefits. In addition to helping completely unemployed applicants, the department also provides unemployment benefits to partially employed workers and employees working reduced hours for lack of available work. Employees who continue working for their employers under modified schedules may qualify for reduced benefits.

Initital Qualification

To qualify for weekly unemployment benefits, unemployed workers must register for work with the state's career center, and they must actively look for any available work. Each applicant must conduct a work search each week she receives benefits, and she must contact at least three prospective employers. Claimants can receive 60 percent of their average wages earned during a base period. A base period of employment is the last four of five calendar quarters of employment preceding unemployment.

Partial Employment

According to the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, partially employed claimants can receive unemployment benefits if they work less than full-time. If an employer reduces an employee's hours for a lack of available work, the state allows her to qualify for benefits in limited circumstances. If an employee's hours reduce by at least 20 percent, she can qualify for unemployment benefits. In other words, a full-time employee who worked 40 hours before her employer reduced her hours cannot work more than 32 hours per week to qualify for unemployment benefits.

Active Work Search

The state requires part-time workers to look for available work while receiving unemployment benefits. Part-time workers who continue working for their previous employers after a reduction in hours may be exempt from the state law requiring them to look for available work.

Employees can receive reduced benefits without looking for other work if their employers experience a temporary decline in business earnings. Similarly, the state provides an exemption from the requirement to look for full-time work for temporarily furloughed employees with a defined recall date of eight weeks or less from the date of filing. However, an employee who finds new employment on a part-time basis while receiving unemployment must continue looking for full-time work.

Reporting Income

Partially employed workers must report their weekly income. New Jersey law requires the department to reduce benefits if a claimant earns more than 20 percent of her weekly benefit rate. If a claimant earns less than 20 percent, she is entitled to receive her full weekly benefits. Additionally, a claimant who receives any other remuneration, including severance pay, pension pay, sick or vacation payouts or "in lieu of wages" compensation must report any additional earnings. However, severance pay and pension pay typically does not affect benefits.

Considerations

Since state laws can frequently change, do not use this information as a substitute for legal advice. Seek advice through an attorney licensed to practice law in your state.

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