Federal law protects employees who work for companies and lose their jobs “through no fault of their own,” as long as the claimant worked for a certain amount of time and earned a minimum amount of money. These rules vary depending on the state. Unemployment benefits are not usually given to employees who quit or get fired unless the job loss or reduced hours was not their fault. Other guidelines apply as well. If approved, the former employee must apply for benefits once every one or two weeks.
Pennsylvania Unemployment Guidelines
To qualify for Pennsylvania unemployment benefits, you must have worked a minimum of 18 credit (calendar) weeks and earned $116 or more per week. The Pennsylvania Office of Unemployment Compensation also bases eligibility on the reason for the employer/employee separation. Your former employer will be contacted, and this information will be evaluated along with the details you provide.
You need to have a qualifying separation like being laid off or the company closing down to receive unemployment benefits, but others may qualify depending on the circumstances. Separations based on the following will generally result in benefit denials:
- Failed drug and alcohol testing
- Frequent absenteeism/tardiness
- Poor work performance
- Willful misconduct
- Willfully damaging company property
To continue receiving benefits, you must be willing to accept new work and not turn down any legitimate offers. You’ll have to certify your benefits every week as well. The benefits last 52 weeks after your application date, so it is a temporary, not a permanent solution.
New Jersey Unemployment Guidelines
New Jersey’s unemployment eligibility guidelines differ somewhat from Pennsylvania’s. Applicants must have worked for at least 20 weeks and have earned a minimum of $240 a week or a total of $12,000 during that time. Layoffs and company downsizings are acceptable reasons for separations, just like in Pennsylvania. The guidelines are also similar for those who quit voluntarily. When you indicate this answer on your application, a claims examiner will be in touch with you and most likely, your previous employer.
Once approved, you’ll need to certify for benefits each week. To continue receiving payments, you have to be able to work, be looking for work, and not refuse any legitimate offers. If you meet the requirements and become eligible for benefits, you will get them for 26 weeks; that is half what Pennsylvania provides. Both states limit benefits for self-employed workers who own businesses and independent contractors. If you did not pay any payroll taxes, you will not be eligible.
Dealing with state unemployment offices can be frustrating, especially when you are put on hold for hours at a time or get disconnected. This can delay your application process if you have questions. It is also problematic if you were denied and need help with an appeal. Some employees lose their jobs because of discrimination or wrongful termination and others cannot get approvals. When these situations occur, a knowledgeable employment lawyer could be your best bet.
The Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Fight to Protect Their Client’s Rights
Losing your job is concerning enough but when you are denied the employment benefits you deserve, you will want to stand up and fight for your rights. Contact Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. to speak with our skilled Philadelphia employment lawyers about your claim today. Complete our online form or call our office at 215-574-0600. From our offices in Philadelphia, we serve employees in South Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.