Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Can I Get Unemployment In Pennsylvania If I am Working a Part-Time Job?

If While On Unemployment You Get a Part-Time Job Paying You W-2 Wages, You May Still Be Entitled to Partial Unemployment Benefits in Pennsylvania 

Make Sure They Are Paying You W-2 Wages!
In order to understand all of the numbers, we have tried to break it down for you, as follows.
Start By Understanding Weekly Benefit Rate
Below are weekly benefit rates for common salaries/yearly earnings:
$57,000 per year: $573

$50,000 per year: $502

$45,000 per year: $452

$40,000 per year: $402

$35,000 per year: $352

$30,000 per year: $302

$25,000 per year: $252

$20,000 per year: $202

$15,000 per year: $152

Then Figure Out Maximum Amount of Part-Time Benefits You Can Earn
If you are getting unemployment in Pennsylvania, you can work at another job on a part-time basis (provided you are paid W-2 wages and not as a 1099 independent contractor) and still get unemployment. 

If You Are Doing This, You Are Likely an Independent Contractor,
and May Be DQ'd From Getting UC Benefits
The first thing you should know is that, if you earn 40% of your weekly benefit rate or less in your part-time job, you will suffer NO LOSS of unemployment compensation benefits.  Below you will see the maximum part-time earnings for various weekly benefit rates:

$57,000 per year: $573/230
$50,000 per year: $502/201

$45,000 per year: $452/181

$40,000 per year: $402/141

$35,000 per year: $352/121

$30,000 per year: $302/101

$25,000 per year: $252/81

$20,000 per year: $202/61

$15,000 per year: $152/41

Even if you earn more than 40% of your weekly benefit rate in a part-time job, you can still get unemployment, at least up to a certain point.  That certain point is when your part-time earnings, when added to your weekly benefit rate exceed your weekly benefit rate plus 40% of your weekly benefit rate. 

Am I a Part-Time Employee or an Independent Contractor?

All of the principles discussed in this Post apply ONLY if you are being paid w-2 wages in your part-time position.  If, however, you are being paid on a 1099 basis as an independent contractor, you will be deemed ineligible for unemployment benefits in Pennsylvania because you will be deemed to be self-employed.

Employers Are HIGHLY MOTIVATED to Misclassify Workers
How Much Can I Make as a Pert-time Worker Without Having My Pennsylvania Unemployment Benefits Reduced?

The below chart shows the maximum amount of part-time earnings you can earn while still being entitled to any partial unemployment compensation benefits in Pennsylvania (t make things clear, the below figures are weekly benefit rate/40% of weekly benefit rate/maximum part-time earnings allowed):

$57,000 per year: $573/230/803
$50,000 per year: $502/201/703

$45,000 per year: $452/181/ 633

$40,000 per year: $402/141/543

$35,000 per year: $352/121/473

$30,000 per year: $302/101/403

$25,000 per year: $252/81/333

$20,000 per year: $202/61/263

$15,000 per year: $152/41/193

The Tricky Part

Once your part-time earnings exceed 40% of your weekly benefit rate, the amount of your unemployment benefits will be reduced according to a formula.

In order to understand the formula, one needs to understand the verbiage that Unemployment uses to describe the above numbers.  Take, for example, the column $573/230/803.  Unemployment refers to $573 as your “Weekly Benefit Rate.”  It refers to $230 as your “Partial Benefit Credit” (don’t ask me why!).  Oddly, Unemployment does not have a name for the $803 figure, so I call it “the Product.”

"I was told there would be no math..."
Now that we understand the nomenclauture, we (hopefully) can understand the following statement:
If you are working part-time and earning more than your Weekly Benefit Rate, but less than the Product, you will get the difference between the Product and your earnings for each given week.

Your Product is $803 and you are earning $750 per week in a part-time job.  You would get $53 per week in unemployment benefits.

Your Product is $633 and you are earning $450 per week in a part-time job.  You would get $183 per week in unemployment benefits.
Your Product is $403 and you are earning $250 per week in a part-time job.  You would get $153 per week in unemployment benefits.

Your Product is $263 and you are earning $150 per week in a part-time job.  You would get $113 per week in unemployment benefits.

Be Aware of Companies that Want to Hire You as an Independent Contractor on a Part-Time Basis While You Are Getting Pennsylvania Unemployment Benefits.  Unemployment Layer Helping People Characterized as Independent Contractor While Getting Unemployment Benefits

I believe this is a predatory employment practice being carried out throughout the United States. Companies save a lot of money, and spare them selves nearly all legal risks, by hiring people to work as independent contractors.  There is little question that if Corporate America could get away with it, nearly all non-management personnel would be employed as "independent contractors."

Part-Time Job as Independent Contractor
Potentially Disqualifying
Of course, they can't get away with it on such a grand scheme.  Still, it is very, very, very common for companies (and staffing companies) to seek out unemployed workers and offer them "part-time work" as "independent contractors."

Many people who take such jobs think they are accepting part-time work that will not affect their unemployment rights.  That would be incorrect.  Unemployment considers people working as independent contractors to be "self-employed," and people that are self-employed are ineligible for unemployment.  

If You Are Disqualified From Receiving Pennsylvania Unemployment Benefits Because You Took an Independent Contractor Position, You Can Appeal and Have Your Right to Benefits Reinstated

However, even if you have signed an independent contractor agreement, and are therefore initially deemed  ineligible for continuing unemployment benefits by Pennsylvania's Department of Labor and Industry, the matter does not necessarily end there.  If you appeal such a determination, and prove at an unemployment hearing that you are in fact a "true employee," or are not actually "self-employed, your right to benefits will be reinstated.

Click Here to read our "soup to nuts" Post about the rules and laws relating to misclassification of workers, self-employment and Pennsylvania unemployment law, and what you can do if you have been misclassified.

Philadelphia Area Unemployment Attorney Representing Independent Contractors

John A. Gallagher, Esquire -
Representing Individuals Since 1991

John A. Gallagher is an employment lawyer who represents employees in Pennsylvania.

Click Here if you have questions about any aspect of employment law, from wrongful termination, to wage and overtime claims, to discrimination and retaliation laws, to Family and Medical Leave…

Click Here if you have questions about any aspect of Pennsylvania Unemployment Law, from willful misconduct, to voluntary quit, to Referee Hearings, to severance issues…

Click Here to e-mail John directly.

Thanks for checking in with us.


Anonymous said...

Thank you. You have made this so easy to understand and I now know how to estimate what I will be making each week when I do go back to work art-time.

John Oliver said...

Thanks for this. Very helpful...

How would this work...

Getting paid the maximum of $573, earn an additional $200 per week in a part-time role. Do you still get the entire $573 (along with the$200 you earned) since it is under the 40% threshhold?

Employment Lawyers said...


If you are receiving $573, you may earn up to $229 per week on W-2 part time work without suffering any reduction in your $573 weekly benefit.


John A. Gallagher

Anonymous said...

So, when you file a bi-weekly claim, do you say you were working or not?

Anonymous said...

This is quite helpful. But if you do get some part time work, how do you file your bi-weekly claim when they ask if you worked? Do you include your part time role?

Ingrid said...


What if your weekly benefit rate is $573 and your gross pay at a part-time job is max $400 a week. Will I still qualify for unemployment benefits? And if so, how much will I receive? Thank you in advance for your help! This information is valuable!



Anonymous said...

I make 573 each week on unemployment. I can earn 229.00 extra per week. Is that gross or net?

Anonymous said...

Is it possible to work full time at a much lower rate and still collect unemployment? Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I would assume it would be a net figure since the UC is a net figure. Have to compare apples to apples.

Unknown said...

Are you able to quit a part time job to go to another part time job that pays more? I am currently collecting PA UC and would like to quit one job paying less to go to another one that pays more