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Can I collect partial unemployment in Calif if my pay is reduced but my hours remain the same?

by anonymous
(Orange County, CA)

We are hearing rumors at work that the company is considering a 20% across the board paycut. Our hours will remain the same (40 per week). Is this legal? If so, can we file for partial unemployment for lost wages? Is there an amount at which we will be ineligible for benefits. I am one of the more highly compensated employees in the company, but I still can't afford to lose 20% of my pay.

Hi Anonymous,

It's legal. It might not be a very nice thing for an employer to do, but it's legal .. unless you would be making less than minimum wage or possibly if the employer is in violation of some sort of prevailing wage requirement.

Partial unemployment benefits are not possible, because you must be working less than full-time,which if I am correctly applying California's formula for partial unemployment would need to be a reduction greater than 25 percent.

And apparently your employer also isn't feeling ethically compelled to consider reducing hours instead of wages and voluntarily participating in California's Work-Share program .. which would allow you to collect unemployment based on the lost hours .. instead of wages ..

So the question that matters now is whether a 20 percent reduction is substantial enough to be good cause to quit .. if that's really want you want to do .. because you will be making less than the 80 percent you would still be earning.

So where's the answer? Consider yourself lucky to be living in California where they actually do make a very good effort to inform unemployed people.

Can't find this information for every state and sometimes the news is bad anyway.

Your answer is in #5 on this this page.

Good Luck,


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Jun 14, 2012
Workshare CA, penalized for full time?
by: Anonymous

Similar situation here, but our employer has a much more helpful attitude and has implemented CA's workshare program.

However, there seems to be a catch, so I will summarize.

Our HOURS were reduced some time back in an effort to streamline while pursuing add'l projects. Across the board hours were cut by 20% for hourly, income by 20% for exempt. We're a small biz (20) and a close group, so everyone has been pulling together, working to be more efficient, etc.

Now the rub; some exempt employees have been working on current projects past the 32-hour mark set. This work is billed to those projects and hence the clients, etc. BUT, we've just been told that in spite of the 20% pay cut those employees who put in extra time to keep things getting done aren't eligible to claim Workshare compensation for those billing periods.

Essentially, "help out and get the job done, take home less pay, and now you're penalized due to working 40 hours in spite of being compensated for 32..."

Is this interpretation by our acct department correct for San Diego, CA? Should we, as an office, forgo getting our work done and become clock-watchers? If this is truly the State's policy, it seems oriented more towards pushing us to full unemployment than getting back to full time work.


Yes, I'm thinking that interpretation would be correct because they are exempt workers and not paid by the hour and anything else could be translated to the employer allowing unemployment fraud to occur.

Maybe the FLSA or California Wage & Hour laws would help .. because I only think I'm correct, but could be wrong.

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