If you recently lost your job in Utah, you might be eligible for unemployment benefits: payments available to 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 benefit amounts, eligibility rules, and other details vary from state to state. This article explains how unemployment benefits work in Utah.
The Utah Department of Workforce Services (DWS) handles unemployment benefits and determines eligibility on a case-by-case basis. You must meet three eligibility requirements to collect unemployment benefits in Utah:
You must be out of work through no fault of your own to qualify for unemployment benefits in Utah.
If you are laid off, lose your job in a reduction-in-force (RIF), or got "downsized" for economic reasons, you will meet this requirement.
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. You will, however, be disqualified from receiving benefits for a period of time if your employer had good cause to fire you because you intentionally, willfully, or recklessly committed an act (or failure to act) that harmed your employer's interests. You will face a longer disqualification period if you were fired for committing a crime of dishonesty.
If you quit your job, you won't be eligible for unemployment benefits unless you had good cause. In general, good cause means that your reason for leaving the position was job-related and was so compelling that you had no other choice than to leave. 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.
The Utah Department of Workforce Services (DWS) will also consider whether it would be equitable to deny you benefits, given the circumstances under which you left your job. For example, you may still be eligible for benefits if you quit for compelling personal reasons, if you tried to make adjustments or find alternatives to quitting but were unable to do so.
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 Utah, 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 were to file your claim in March of 2020, the base period would be from October 1, 2019, through September 30, 2020.
To qualify for benefits in Utah, you must both of the following requirements:
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 offered a suitable position, you must accept it.
Whether a position is suitable depends on several factors, including the commute, pay, working conditions, the skill and training required, and how similar the job is to your former employment. However, as time goes on, you will be expected to modify your standards and consider accepting work that is different or that pays less than what you were receiving.
You must engage in a good faith search for work. The Utah Department of Workforce Services may ask you to provide contact information for employers you've contacted at any point during your claim.
If you are eligible to receive unemployment, your weekly benefit rate (WBR) will be 1/26 of your wages in the highest paid quarter of the base period, minus $5. Currently, the most you can receive each week is $580. You may receive benefits for a maximum of 26 weeks, although the federal government has extended this by an additional 13 weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
You may file your claim for unemployment benefits in Utah electronically or by phone, although the DWS prefers online filing. You can find online filing information at the website of the Utah Department of Workforce Services.
Once the DWS receives your application, it will notify you of your eligibility and benefit amount.
If your unemployment claim is denied, you have 15 days to appeal the decision. After receiving your appeal request, the Appeals Unit of the Utah Department of Workforce Services will schedule a hearing before an administrative law judge, at which you can present evidence and witnesses. Hearings are typically held by phone.
If you disagree with the judge's decision after the initial hearing, you can file an application for review with the Workforce Appeals Board within 30 days.
For more information on the unemployment process, including current eligibility requirements and benefits amounts, visit the website of the Utah Department of Workforce Services.