Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Unemployment Compensation Rules for Pennsylvania Public School Administrators, Principals and Teachers

Can a Teacher in Pennsylvania That is Paid on a Year Round Basis Get Unemployment Benefits During the Summer?

No, not under any circumstances.

If you are a teacher paid on a 52-week basis, you cannot get unemployment benefits for the summer months even if you are fired from your job at the end of the year.  That is because, even though you became unemployed in June, you are still getting paid in July and August for the work you did during the preceding school year.

However, if you are fired in June, you will become eligible for benefits after your 52-week pay cycle expires (presumably in late August), unless you have found another job.

Can a Pennsylvania School Teacher Get Unemployment in Between School Years If They Are Getting Paid on a 9 Month/36 Week Pay Cycle?

Yes, but only if 1) you are terminated for something other than willful misconduct; 2) you quit your job due to a necessitous and compelling reason; 3) you are demoted for reasons other than willful misconduct, reject the demotion and are terminated or deemed to have resigned your position; or, 4) you are not provided with a  a bona fide job offer, for the following semester. 

This last scenario is referred to as the "reasonable assurance" principle, and it is discussed below.

Can a Pennsylvania Teacher Get Unemployment During the Summer Months in Between School Years?

From time to time, an employee of a school district or private school is not offered a new contract at the end of the school year.  In some cases, the employee is terminated.  In other cases, the employee is offered a new position for the following year.  If the new position offers the teacher less hours/a inferior position, and less pay, and the teacher accepts the new position, the teacher may be eligible for unemployment during the summer months between semesters provided he/she was paid on a 36-week cycle for the immediately preceding school year.

EXAMPLE:  Ms. Brown is a full-time Assistant-Principal who is during school year 2011-12 paid a salary of $72,000 in 36 equal payments of $2,000 beginning September 1, 2011 and ending May 31, 2012. 

In May 2012, Ms. Brown is informed that, going forward, she would become a full-time teacher paid $45,000 per year.  She accepts this offer.

Ms,. Brown can file for and receive unemployment for the months June, July and August 2012.

The law that discusses this principle is as follows:

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§ 65.161. Reasonable assurance.

 (a)  For purposes of section 402.1 of the law (43 P. S. §  802.1), a contract or reasonable assurance that an individual will perform services in the second academic period exists only if both of the following conditions are met:

   (1)  The educational institution or educational service agency provides a bona fide offer of employment for the second academic period to the individual.

   (2)  The economic terms and conditions of the employment offered to the individual for the second academic period are not substantially less than the terms and conditions of the individual’s employment in the first academic period.

 (b)  For the purposes of subsection (a), an offer of employment is not bona fide if both of the following conditions exist:

   (1)  The educational institution or educational service agency does not control the circumstances under which the individual would be employed.

   (2)  The educational institution or educational service agency cannot provide evidence that the individual or similarly situated individuals normally perform services in the second academic period.

 (c)  For the purposes of subsection (a), economic terms and conditions of employment include wages, benefits and hours of work.

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NOTE:  If Ms. Brown rejects the teaching position and is deemed either to have resigned or is terminated, then she will likely be eligible for unemployment immediately, and can continue to receive unemployment for as long as she is unemployed, provided all other criteria are met (i.e. she was not offered the part-time job because she had engaged in willful misconduct while employed full-time, she looks for work, etc.)

NOTE:  If Ms. Brown accepts the new job, she cannot file for "partial unemployment" beginning in September because, although her pay was reduced, her work hours were not.  Partial Unemployment is available only to employees who 1) have had their work hours reduced; and, 2) have had their pay rate reduced.

NOTE:  If you are a full-time teacher who is offered and accepts a part-time position beginning the following year, you may during the following year be entitled to receive unemployment compensation. 

Philadelphia Are Employment Attorney Representing Employees

Lawyer Assisting Public School Employees Since 1991
John A. Gallagher is an employment lawyer who represents employees in Pennsylvania. 

John typically represents employees who need an employment lawyer in Philadelphia County, Chester County, Delaware County, Bucks County, Berks County, Lancaster County and Montgomery County.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Would a part time college professor (adjunct) who is only paid 9 months out of the year also be eligible to collect unemployment over the summer? Adjuncts are hired on a semester-by-semester basis, with no guarantee that they will be re-hired the following semester until right before that semester starts. Would collecting summer unemployment put them at risk for not being re-hired in the fall?