Can You Claim Partial Unemployment if Your Hours Are Cut in Virginia?

The Virginia Employment Commission administers the commonwealth's unemployment laws. Virginia employers pay unemployment insurance taxes on their total payroll wages. Eligible employees who are no longer employed or work reduced work schedules may receive weekly benefits for up to 26 weeks if they register for work, look for work and remain physically and mentally able to work. Applicants must also monetarily qualify for unemployment insurance benefits. Applicants receive at least 12 weeks of unemployment benefits.

Qualification and Eligibility

According to the Virginia Employment Commission, applicants must first become unemployed or work reduced hours to qualify for unemployment insurance benefits. Virginia law allows unemployed applicants and partially employed applicants to receive unemployment insurance benefits as long as they continue looking for full-time work and accept suitable offers. Furthermore, claimants must report their earnings as they work. Claimants who work less than full-time (defined as 40 hours per week) may qualify for unemployment insurance benefits if their weekly earnings are less than their weekly unemployment allowance.

Partially Employed Claimants

The Virginia Employment Commission defines a partially employed claimant as one who worked less than his typical customary hours or less than full-time. For example, a claimant who typically works 35 hours per week may qualify for unemployment benefits if his employer reduced his hours to 30 hours per week and his earnings do not exceed his weekly benefits. Partially employed claimants may be exempt from seeking other full-time work. The commonwealth may provide an exemption for the work search requirement on a case-by-case basis.

Unemployment Benefits for Partial Income

Partially employed claimants must work all hours offered by their employers. If their decisions to work less than full-time are voluntary or due to their misconduct or refusal to work, they are not eligible for unemployment benefits. Furthermore, a partially employed applicant is not eligible for unemployment benefits if he does not work but simply receives "show-up pay" or holiday pay for reporting to work but not working. Partially employed claimants qualify for reduced benefits.

Weekly Benefit Amount

For 2011, the weekly maximum benefit claimants may receive is $378. The weekly minimum benefit claimants may receive is $54. Under Virginia law, claimants earning income while receiving unemployment benefits will receive a reduced weekly allowance. Generally, Virginia law allows claimants to keep the first $50 of additional earnings per week. After $50, the commonwealth reduces benefits by earnings on a dollar-for-dollar basis. During weeks when a claimant's earnings equal or exceed his benefits, he is ineligible to receive unemployment benefits.

Forms

Applicants who work less than full-time must complete Virginia Employment Commission Form VEC-B-31, Statement of Partial Unemployment, for each week they apply for benefits. They must obtain this form from their employers, complete the form and submit it to the Virginia Employment Commission within 14 days of receipt. Applicants can also file for full weekly benefits if their employers do not have work for them to perform during certain weeks.

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