Can a Substitute Teacher Collect Unemployment in New York?

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Substitute teaching has no guarantee of hours to work, leaving teachers with times when they cannot find substitute jobs or when school is out of session. Collecting unemployment benefits during these times would be helpful, especially in expensive areas of New York. The New York Department of Labor provides unemployment benefits to substitute teachers who are in a couple of specific conditions. Other teachers will just have to wait until work returns.

School Breaks

  • New York does not allow teachers to collect unemployment during scheduled school breaks, such as winter vacation, spring break or the summer between academic years. Therefore, if you have reasonable cause to believe that you will be able to work as a substitute teacher again when school starts up again, you cannot collect unemployment benefits. However, if you are unable to get work again when school resumes, you can file for retroactive benefits to cover your unemployment during the break.

Released From Position

  • Some school districts might periodically go through their list of substitute teachers and let some go if they do not have enough work. If you are removed as a potential substitute teacher, you might be eligible to receive unemployment benefits in New York. It depends on whether you meet other eligibility conditions, such as losing work due to no fault of your own, actively looking for other work and meeting the minimum earning standards from when you were working.

Minimum Earnings

  • If you are only an occasional substitute, you might not have enough earnings to be eligible for unemployment compensation in New York. As of 2011, workers in New York needed to have earned at least $1,600 during at least one calendar quarter in the previous year. In addition, the worker must have earned 1.5 times the highest quarter amount during the year overall. Therefore, if you earned $2,000 during one quarter but only $800 outside of that quarter, you would only have $2,800 total, which is not the $3,000 you need to qualify based on your highest income quarter.

Substitute While Unemployed

  • People who are unemployed often look for part-time or temporary work to supplement unemployment checks. Substitute teaching is a flexible position that allows you to earn money while still remaining available for full-time work if a position comes up, so if you were not a substitute before being unemployed, you might choose to work as one after losing your regular job. However, substitute teaching will reduce your unemployment compensation in New York. Each day you work as a substitute, for all or part of the day, you lose 25 percent of your usual weekly unemployment check. In addition, if you earn $405 or more working as a substitute teacher during a week, you are not eligible for any unemployment benefits that week.

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