Preventive Law for Employers

All about partial unemployment

In an attempt to save jobs in these tough times, some employers have been forced to reduce hours for full-time workers.  Did you know that people who work part-time may be entitled to partial  unemployment benefits?   Well, they are in New Jersey, at any rate.  Maguire v. Bd. of Review, 2007 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 2053 (App.Div. May 29, 2007).

First, let’s look at the definitions under the statute:

An individual shall be deemed “unemployed” for any week during which:
(A) The individual is not engaged in full-time work and with respect to which his remuneration is less than his weekly benefit rate. N.J. S.A. § 43:21-19(m)(1).

And the regulations:

“Unemployment” means the state of being unemployed (that is, not having a job, out of work). An individual shall be deemed “unemployed” for any week during which he or she is not engaged in full-time work and with respect to which his or her remuneration is less than the individual’s weekly benefit rate. N.J.A.C. 12:17-2.1.

For 2010, the weekly benefit rate is 60% of the average weekly earnings during the base year period, up to a maximum of $600.

According to the 2009 DOL Employer Handbook,

PARTIAL BENEFITS – Individuals who work less than full time due to lack of work may be eligible for partial benefits. To be eligible for partial benefits, the individual must not be employed for more than 80% of the normal hours worked in the occupation. The partial weekly benefit amount payable is computed by subtracting the claimant’s gross wages (fractional part of a dollar omitted) for the week claimed from 120 percent of the claimant’s weekly benefit rate . The partial benefit amount is computed to the next lower dollar, if not already a multiple thereof.

Putting these together, if a worker’s hours are cut by at least 20% and the worker does not earn at least $600/week, the worker is eligible for partial unemployment.

BTW, NJ law requires employers to give employees a notice and instructions on how to file for unemployment when workers are fired or laid off.   I think it would be a good idea to give it to someone whose hours have been reduced at least 20%, as well.

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Who is Ann Kiernan?

Ann Kiernan is an employment lawyer who has been practicing law in New Jersey for more than 30 years. She represents only employers and management and regularly provides management training companies big and small. Employment law is constantly changing, and Ann is familiar how these changes affect employers. To keep up-to-date and learn what issues are currently affecting businesses and employers in New Jersey, read the blog.

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