Can you work part time while receiving unemployment?

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Can you work part time while receiving unemployment?
(Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Many job seekers take part-time jobs in order to supplement unemployment benefits, to maintain or improve their skills or to make contacts within a company or an industry. Before they look for a job online some will ask themselves, "Can you work while on unemployment?" Part-time work does not automatically disqualify a worker from receiving unemployment benefit payments. The determining factor is how much money the worker makes from a part-time job.

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Who Is Eligible for Unemployment Benefits?

In order to be eligible for unemployment benefits, a worker must have been terminated from her job involuntarily and immediately available for full-time work. This means that once they accept full-time work, or if they become full-time students, they are no longer eligible to receive unemployment. A part-time job is not considered to be a replacement for a full-time job as far as qualifying for unemployment benefits.

How Much Can You Earn While on Unemployment?

The total amount of unemployment benefits to which a worker is entitled is not affected by the worker taking a part-time job. She may receive a reduced amount of unemployment compensation in each instalment which is paid to her while she is working part time. However, if she remains unable to find full-time work long enough, she will eventually receive the full amount of benefits for which she is eligible while doing part-time hours.

Part-Time Work vs. Returning to Work

Within limits, taking a part-time job is not considered as returning to work. Returning to work is defined as accepting a full-time job, whether or not that job is related to the worker's former position. For hourly positions, a full-time job is usually at least 35 hours per week, but the specifics may vary. For salaried positions, returning to work would mean that the worker took a job that was specifically labelled as a full-time job.

Calculating Unemployment Benefits With Part-Time Work

Unemployment benefits are calculated based on the earnings of the worker in his former job. If the worker takes a part-time job, he is allowed to earn a certain amount of money before his unemployment benefits are affected. If he earns more than a certain amount, his unemployment benefits are reduced according to how much he has earned. However, he will never receive less total income than he would have received from unemployment alone, and in most instances will receive more.

For instance, in Texas, a job seeker collecting unemployment benefits is allowed to earn up to 125 per cent each week of his weekly unemployment benefit amount from a part-time job and remain eligible for unemployment benefits. If he earns less than 125 per cent of his weekly benefit amount, the state will pay the difference, so that he would actually receive 125 per cent in total income of what he would have received from unemployment alone.

This means that an unemployed job seeker in Texas who is eligible for £65 per week in unemployment benefits, and earns £32 per week through part-time work would be paid an additional £32 in unemployment benefits. His total weekly income would be £81, rather than £65, for as long as he held his part-time job and remained eligible for unemployment benefits.

Considerations

Each state has its own formula to calculate the amount of earnings which workers are allowed from part-time work while remaining eligible to receive unemployment benefits. Supplementing unemployment benefits with income from a part-time job could result in a job hunter receiving benefit payments for several more weeks than she would have with unemployment alone. This additional period of receiving benefit payments could be helpful during a prolonged job search.

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