Do Part-Time Workers Get Unemployment Benefits?

You can receive unemployment benefits as a part-time employee.
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Oftentimes a part-time employee gets the “short end of the stick” when it comes to employee benefits. This is due to the fact that many employers only offer benefits to full-time employees. When it comes to unemployment benefits, the employers generally can't discriminate. Both full- and part-time employees have an equal opportunity to collect benefits.

Working Part Time

    If you are currently working a part-time job, it is possible to get unemployment benefits while you are still employed. It all depends upon whether you started out as part time or if the employer cut your hours from full time to part time. If the employer cut your hours back, there is a good chance that you will qualify for partial benefits. Each state has it's own regulations regarding precisely how much your hours must be cut before drawing unemployment. Check with your state's unemployment agency to determine the specifics for your state.

Lost Part-Time Job

    If you are no longer working the part-time job, you may still qualify for benefits. There are a few factors that determine whether or not you qualify. Firstly, your employer must participate in the the state's unemployment insurance program. Secondly, you must be unemployed due to no fault of your own. If you quit, it significantly reduces your chances of getting benefits. You must be actively looking for work. Some states specifically require you to look for full-time work. Lastly, you must have earned a certain amount during your “base period.”

Base-Period Wages

    The base period is generally the 12- to 15-month period leading up to your unemployment. The wages you make during this period are not only used to determine if you qualify for unemployment benefits, they are also used to determine how much you qualify to receive. If you worked the part-time job for at least one year, your benefits may be low, especially if the job didn't pay well. The local unemployment agency can tell you what the base-period requirements are for your specific state.


    Even if you feel your base-period wages are too low, it's still a good idea to apply for benefits. That's the only way to know for certain whether or not you qualify. The application process is not onerous. You simply complete a short application listing information such as your name, contact information, work history, wage history and the reason you are unemployed. A case manager will be assigned to your application. She will conduct interviews with you and your employer to determine if you qualify for benefits.

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