View all Articles

Partial Unemployment Benefits Will Now Be Based on Actual Hours Worked, Rather Than Days Worked

On Monday, January 18, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a proposal to boost partial Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits to New Yorkers who return to work part-time as part of the 2021 State of the State. The plan will ensure unemployed New Yorkers who accept part-time work are not penalized by basing their partial unemployment benefits on the hours they actually work, rather than the number of days they work in a given week. This change will inject more money into New York’s economy while helping businesses fill part-time positions.

Under the current law, unemployed New Yorkers’ weekly benefits are reduced by 25 percent for each day an individual works, regardless of the hours worked which has the effect of unfairly penalizing those who accept part-time jobs. This meant that anyone who worked four or more days, even if they only worked one hour per day, would have to forfeit their entire weekly benefit.

To fix this illogical system of partial UI, Governor Cuomo has directed the New York Department of Labor (DOL) to immediately implement emergency measures that base partial unemployment benefits on the number of hours actually worked over the course of a week. Under this new system, claimants can work up to seven days per week and still receive some unemployment benefits if they work fewer than 30 hours and earn no more than $504 in gross pay. The new method of calculating partial benefits is outlined below:

  • New Yorkers who work between zero and four hours in a week and earn no more than $504 will receive their full unemployment benefit;
  • New Yorkers who work between four and ten hours in a week and earn no more than $504 will receive 75 percent of their unemployment benefit;
  • New Yorkers who work between ten and 20 hours in a week and earn no more than $504 will receive half of their unemployment benefit;
  • New Yorkers who work between 20 and 30 hours in a week and earn no more than $504 will receive 25 percent of their unemployment benefit; and
  • New Yorkers who work over 30 hours in a week, regardless of earnings, will not receive any of their unemployment benefit.

Claimants will still be required to submit weekly certifications online or over the phone to receive their benefits each week. However, to allow the DOL to immediately implement this change, claimants will use a formula to convert the number of hours they work into a number of “days” to report when certifying. When the DOL’s certification system asks for the number of days worked, claimants will add together the total number of hours they worked during a given week and use the following chart to determine how their weekly hours worked translates to the number of days they should report when certifying. When totaling hours for the week, claimants should use a maximum of 10 hours per day, even if they worked more hours during a day.

The changes will go into effect for work done on or after Monday, January 18, 2021, which unemployed New Yorkers certify for starting on Sunday, January 24, 2021.

Legislation will also be submitted by the Governor with the Executive Budget to permanently enact this partial UI program.
HR Works will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as new information becomes available.

HR Works, Inc., headquartered at 200 WillowBrook Office Park in Fairport (Rochester), New York, with an office in East Syracuse, is a human resource management outsourcing and consulting firm serving clients throughout the United States. HR Works provides scalable strategic human resource management and consulting services, including: affirmative action programs; benefits administration outsourcing; HRIS self-service technology; full-time, part-time and interim on-site HR managers; HR audits; legally reviewed employee handbooks and supervisor manuals; talent management and recruiting services; and training of managers and HR professionals.