In New York—as in every other state—employees who are temporarily out of work through no fault of their own may qualify to collect unemployment benefits. The eligibility rules, prior earnings requirements, benefit amounts, and other details vary from state to state, however.
Here are the basic rules for collecting unemployment compensation in New York.
The three eligibility requirements to collect unemployment benefits in New York are:
Virtually all states look at your recent work history and earnings during a one-year "base period" to determine your eligibility for unemployment compensation. In New York, as in most states, the base period is the earliest four of the five complete calendar quarters before you filed your claim for benefits. For example, if you filed you claim in October of 2019, the base period would be from June 1, 2018, through May 31, 2019.
New York recognizes an alternate base period for those who can't meet the earnings requirements (below) in the regular base period. The alternate base period is the last four completed quarters before the person files for unemployment. This alternate period takes more recent employment into account. Even filers who qualify using the regular base period can ask the agency to instead use the alternate base period to calculate their benefits, if that would result in a higher weekly amount.
During the base period, your work history and earnings must meet all three of the following requirements:
You must be out of work through no fault of your own to qualify for unemployment compensation in New York. If you are laid off, lose your job in a reduction-in-force (RIF), or get "downsized" for economic reasons, you will meet this requirement. You will also likely be eligible for unemployment benefits if you are fired because you don't meet the qualifications for the job or you fail to meet the employer's performance or productivity standards.
In New York, employees who are fired for work-related misconduct may not qualify for unemployment benefits. Examples of work-related misconduct include violating company policy or rules, such as those prohibiting absenteeism or insubordination. If you are fired for conviction of a felony (or admitting you committed one), you also won't be eligible for benefits.
If you quit your job, you won't be eligible for unemployment unless you had good cause for quitting.
To maintain your eligibility for unemployment benefits, you must be able to work, available to work, and looking for work. If you are offered a suitable position, you must accept it. A suitable position is one for which you are a fit based on your training and experience. Even if the position pays less than what you used to make, you may not turn it down for this reason as long as it pays the prevailing wage for similar work.
You must keep written records of your job search efforts. If you are asked to come in to the state agency for a personal interview, you may be asked to bring these records.
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