Collecting Unemployment Benefits in Hawaii

Learn the unemployment eligibility rules, benefit amounts, and more for Hawaii.

Did you recently lose your job in Hawaii? If so, you might be eligible for unemployment benefits: payments intended to partially replace the wages of employees who are temporarily out of work through no fault of their own. Although the basic rules for unemployment are similar across the board, the eligibility rules, prior earnings requirements, benefit amounts, and other details vary from state to state. Below you’ll find information on collecting unemployment in Hawaii.

Eligibility for Unemployment in Hawaii

In Hawaii, the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR) handles unemployment benefits and determines eligibility on a case-by-case basis. Applicants must meet the following three eligibility requirements in order to collect unemployment benefits in Hawaii:

  • You must have earned at least a minimum amount in wages before you were unemployed.
  • You must be unemployed through no fault of your own, as defined by Hawaii law.
  • You must be able and available to work, and you must be actively seeking employment.

Past Earnings

Virtually all states look at your recent work history and earnings during a one-year "base period" to determine your eligibility for unemployment. (For more information, see Nolo's article, Unemployment Compensation: Understanding the Base Period.) In Hawaii, as in most states, the base period is the earliest four of the five complete calendar quarters before you filed your benefits claim. For example, if you file your claim in July of 2017, the base period would be from April 1, 2016, through March 31, 2017.

To qualify for benefits in Hawaii, you must meet both of the following requirements:

  • You must have earned wages in at least two quarters of the base period.
  • You must have earned at least 26 times your weekly benefit amount in the entire base period.

Reasons for Unemployment

In Hawaii, as in other states, you must be out of work through no fault of your own to qualify for unemployment benefits.

Layoffs. If you were laid off, lost your job in a reduction-in-force (RIF), or got "downsized" for economic reasons, you will meet this requirement.

Firing. If you were fired because you lacked the skills to perform the job or simply weren't a good fit, you won’t necessarily be barred from receiving benefits. However, if you were fired for misconduct relating to your job, you will be ineligible for benefits. In Hawaii, misconduct includes actions that show a deliberate disregard for the obligations, duties, or behavioral standards that you owe your employer. For example, threatening or physically assaulting a coworker in violation of your employer’s zero-tolerance policy towards workplace violence would likely qualify as misconduct. Simple carelessness does not qualify as misconduct, unless it occurs in such degree or frequency as to show a wrongful intent towards your employer. If, for instance, you are fired for continuing to be late or absent from work without an excuse, after repeated warnings about the problem, you may be ineligible for benefits.

Quitting. If you quit your job, you will be disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits unless you had good cause relating to your work. In general, good cause means that a real, substantial, and compelling reason to quit, which would have caused a reasonable worker who genuinely wanted to keep the job to do the same. For example, if you left your job because of dangerous working conditions or sexual harassment that your employer refused to stop, you may be able to collect benefits.

Availability to Work

To keep collecting unemployment benefits, you must be able to work, available to work, and looking for employment. (For more information, see Nolo's article, Collecting Unemployment: Are You Able, Available, and Actively Seeking Work?) If you’re incarcerated, on vacation, or in school, or you don’t have adequate transportation to get to work, you likely won’t be considered able and available to work. If you’re offered a suitable position, you must accept it. A suitable job is one for which you are qualified and which pays the prevailing wage for that type of work in your area.

In Hawaii, you must register for work and post your resume online at Hire Net Hawaii. You must make at least three job contacts per week, keeping a log of your job contacts and other job search activities. The Hawaii DLIR may request your job search records at any time.

Amount and Duration of Unemployment Benefits in Hawaii

If you are eligible to receive unemployment, your weekly benefit will be your total compensation in the highest-paid quarter of the base period divided by 21. The current maximum benefit amount is $619 per week; the current minimum is $5 per week. You may receive benefits for a maximum of 26 weeks. (In times of higher unemployment, additional weeks of benefits may be available.)

How to File a Claim for Unemployment Benefits in Hawaii

You may file your claim for unemployment benefits online. You can find online filing information at the website of the Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.

After you file, you will receive an Unemployment Determination of Insured Status, which will include the wages reported by all of your employers during your base period and your potential weekly benefit amount.

How to Appeal a Denial of Unemployment Benefits in Hawaii

If your unemployment claim is denied, you have ten days to file an appeal with the Employment Security Appeals Referee Office. A hearing will be conducted by phone by a referee. You will be able to present evidence and witness testimony at the hearing. The referee will then issue a decision.

If you disagree with the referee’s decision, you may file an appeal in state court.

For more information on the unemployment process, including current eligibility requirements and benefits amounts, visit the website of the Hawaii DLIR.

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