To be eligible for unemployment benefits, a person must have at least some minimum amount of work experience within the last one and one-half years before filing for benefits.
State formulas are used. Each state has a different formula for determining the minimum needed to obtain benefits in that state. Most of the states require that the employee worked at least some part of two different calendar quarters within the past one and one-half years, and a large percentage of states also have a specific dollar amount of wages that must have been earned.
Your local unemployment office should be able to tell you what the minimum is in your state. You should know what your state's minimum is, and think about setting up a probationary period for new hires that is less than the minimum time that would qualify a worker for benefits.
In most states, time spent and money earned in self-employment does not count toward these minimums. If you decide to pack up your business, you probably won't be able to get unemployment benefits.
Other eligibility requirements. There are a few other eligibility requirements. If you suspect your ex-employee doesn't meet them, consider contesting the payment of benefits.
- The worker must be truly unemployed. If the worker has a well-paying part-time job or is self-employed, he or she usually won't be eligible for benefits.
- The worker must make a claim for benefits at the local state employment office, and respond to any cards, letters or requests to appear from the government; otherwise benefits will be cut off.
- In most areas the employment office also helps jobless workers find a new position, and the worker must cooperate with the office must file job applications, show up for interviews, and accept a suitable position if one turns up through this process. In some states the worker must report back to the agency with the number of job applications he or she has made each week, to prove that the job search is continuing.
- The worker must be ready, willing and able to work. That means his or her health must be good enough for work in a reasonable number of jobs that are available in your area. It also means the worker did not decide to take a long vacation. If the worker has enrolled in some type of school or training course, it must be approved by the state unemployment agency, or the worker must be willing to leave the course if school hours would conflict with a suitable job offer.