When your employer hands you a “pink slip” indicating you have been laid off due to performance issues, all is not a loss. There is a strong possibility that you qualify for unemployment benefits to get you through the transition. There are rules and guidelines that determine if you qualify to collect benefits. Whether you think you qualify or not, it' still a good idea to apply for benefits. You just might get approved.
Being Laid Off
Several factors are considered when determining if you qualify for unemployment after a layoff, including whether your employer pays unemployment insurance taxes, whether you earned enough money during the last 12 to 15 months and the specific performance problem that caused you to get laid off. Even though you are laid off, you must still actively look for work. You can't just sit back and wait for the employer to call you back in. If you fail to perform job searches during the layoff, it can result in a denial of benefits.
Each state has its own rules regarding which employers have to pay unemployment insurance taxes. These rules are based on how many employees the company has and how much money is paid in wages each year. Check with your state's unemployment insurance agency to determine if your employer is a program participant. If she is, your next step is to review your base period wages, which includes your total earnings over the past year. Base period wage requirements are state specific. Get your state's requirements from the local unemployment agency. If you earned enough base period wages, there is one last hurdle to jump.
Specific Performance Issue
By law, to collect unemployment, you can't be “at fault” for your lost wages. Whether or not you can get benefits all depends on the performance issue. For instance, if you were laid off due to poor attendance habits, you may not qualify. On the other hand, if you are laid off due to reasons beyond your control, you may get benefits. For instance, the company may have started a new project and you just couldn't seem to grasp the new procedures. Perhaps you asked for additional training and your request was denied. Under such circumstances, you may qualify for benefits.
You Need Proof
After you apply for unemployment benefits, you are interviewed by an unemployment agency representative. You must convince her that you are not at fault for your lost wages. One way to convince her is to present a paper trail proving you did everything possible to correct the performance issue. For instance, if additional training would have prevented the layoff, show the representative copies of letters you wrote to management asking for additional training. Show copies of your request being denied. The more proof you have, the greater your chances of getting approved.
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