Did you recently lose your job in Vermont? 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 Vermont.
In Vermont, the Department of Labor (DOL) 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 Vermont:
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 Vermont, 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 September of 2015, the base period would be from April 1, 2014, through March 31, 2015.
To qualify for benefits in Vermont, you must meet both of the following requirements:
In Vermont, 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 disqualified from receiving benefits. For simple misconduct, you will be disqualified for six to 15 weeks. Simple misconduct is defined as work-related conduct that substantially disregards the employer’s interests, such as extreme carelessness, repeated absences or lateness, insubordination, or lying on a job application. For gross misconduct, you will be ineligible for benefits. Gross misconduct includes behavior such as damaging company property, creating a hostile work environment through repeated use of profanity and insubordination, and unprovoked workplace outbursts.
Quitting. If you quit your job, you will be disqualified from receiving 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. You may also be eligible for benefits if you quit for certain compelling personal reasons, including to relocate with a spouse who serves in the military (depending on the circumstances).
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.
In Vermont, you must actively search for work each week, keeping a log of your job contacts and other job search activities. You must make at least three job contacts per week. Your log may be audited at any time.
If you’re offered a suitable position, you must accept it. Whether a job is suitable depends on a variety of factors, including your prior training and experience, your prior earnings, your physical fitness, how long you have been unemployed, what the local job market looks like in your usual occupation, and the length of the commute.
In Vermont, suitable work is generally defined as work that you are qualified to do, based on your experience, history, and skills, which pays at least the prevailing wage in your area for that type of job. Initially, you will be expected to accept positions that offer up to 10% less than what you were previously making. After five weeks of being unemployed, you will be expected to take positions offering up to 20% less than your last job.
If you are eligible to receive unemployment, your weekly benefit rate is your total wages in the two highest paid quarters of the base period divided by 45. The current maximum is $436 per week. You may receive benefits for a maximum of 26 weeks. (In times of very high unemployment, additional weeks of benefits may be available.)
You may file your claim for unemployment benefits by phone. You can find online filing information and telephone contact information at the website of the Vermont Department of Labor.
After you file, you will receive a monetary determination from the DOL, stating the wages reported by your employers during your base period and how much you can expect to receive in benefits.
If your unemployment claim is denied, you have 30 days to file an appeal. You can file your appeal by mailing or faxing it to the Appeals Department of the Vermont DOL.
A hearing will be conducted, by telephone, before an administrative law judge. You will be able to present evidence and witness testimony before and at the hearing. The judge will then issue a decision on your appeal.
If you disagree with the judge’s decision, you may appeal to the Employment Security Board. If the Board rules against you, you have a right to appeal to the Vermont Supreme Court.
For more information on the unemployment process, including current eligibility requirements and benefits amounts, visit the Vermont DOL website.