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Can I get Ohio partial unemployment when hours are reduced.

by Debra

I've been working at a hotel for over a year. At the time I was hired, they were desperate to fill cook positions and I took the job because of the hourly pay rate. It was a lower title (kitchen supervisor as opposed to Sous Chef) then my resume reflects but the pay was good and I had no other prospects.

After a year, and the bad economic turn of late, they had finally restaffed the kitchen with new employees who are much cheaper. Now they have cut my hours to one day a week. I took my vacation this week just to get a full paycheck.

I believe they are keeping me working one day a week in order to avoid paying unemployment. They have written me up twice and stated that I will be fired if there's any more problems. I think this is a bluff and they are trying to get me to quit. I would in a heartbeat if there were any other jobs.

I know I can't collect unemployment, but this is infuriating to me because I am not making enough to pay my mortgage and bills, and because I have been paying into the system of unemployment my whole life and never get to actually use it. This has happened to me once before with another hourly job.

Any insight would be helpful. Do you think this is a loophole in unemployment benefits that should be addressed with some changes in our current eligability rules? Is there anything someone like me can do about this?

Hi Debra,

First, employees do not pay unemployment tax. It is a program entirely funded by employers...which I personally think is a major flaw in the system, but that's a subject for another day....

I'm curious as to why you say you know you can't collect unemployment...have you tried to collect partial unemployment?

Did your employer EVEN tell you there was such a thing as partial unemployment benefits when hours are reduced from full time to one day, which is not enough for most people to survive on? Probably not .. not if think they are writing you up just to get you to quit.

Now, Ohio is a little unique in that it's minimum monetary requirement for unemployment is so can actually prohibit low-wage earners from even qualifying, or those who continue in a reduced hour job until any past full time
wages cannot be found in a UI claim's base period....

These are the requirements as of 2009 to qualify monetarily for the minimum amount of Ohio benefits for being totally unemployed.

You must have at least 20 weeks of wages in your claim's base period and they must averaging at least 27.5 times Ohio's AWW (average weekly wage) Currently, Ohio's website says the AWW is $210.

Simply put, if a person hasn't earned at least 4200 dollars in any 20 week period in their base period (first 4 of the last 5 COMPLETED quarter or if necessary an alternative would be the last 4 quarters)they will not monetarily qualify for any benefit.

Ohio, like most states does consider a week of partial unemployment as being any week of less than full-time work where you earned less than your established weekly benefit amount for being totally unemployed. ( last year the maximum benefit amount in Ohio was from $365 to $493 (Ohio does have dependent allowances).

Ohio will disregard an amount of your reduced weekly earnings up to one-fifth of your WBA (weekly benefit amount) before they begin to reduce the amount of the benefit amount of being totally unemployed.

If we use $365 as our example, this means you could earn $73 in any week of reduced hours from full time work, before they start reducing your WBA dollar for dollar. This means someone who has had there hours reduced drastically would actually have a whopping $438 (gross, because you do have to pay tax on UI benefits).

But only if the employee files the a claim and establishes they are partially unemployment through no fault of their own.

Now, if you think your employer is trying to force you to quit, or work up some good cause to fire you, my suggestion is to counter by doing some documenting of your own.

It's probably to late to do this on past written warnings, but it is not to late to sit down and write a letter documenting all occurrences so far and give your reasons as to why you think the disciplines are unjustified.

In other words why the employer is in error for accusing you of misconduct. And it should go without saying you should retain a copy....just in case you need it for use at an unemployment hearing and include on the documentation you have asked the letter be placed in your personnel file.

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