Frequently Asked Questions About Texas Unemployment Law
More often than not, individuals do not hire attorneys to represent them with regard to unemployment compensation because the economics involved make such representation difficult. Navigating the unemployment system can be difficult however. So we have constructed this page to provide some basic information regarding the Texas unemployment insurance system.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q. What is Unemployment Insurance?
Unemployment Insurance (UI) is an employer-paid insurance program that helps workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own. It provides temporary financial help to qualified individuals, based on their previous earnings, while they are looking for other work. Employer taxes and reimbursements support the Unemployment Trust Fund. Employers cannot deduct any money from employees' paychecks to pay for this program. Individuals can apply for UI benefits anytime online or by calling the TWC Tele-Center nearest their location. The law governing UI benefits in Texas is the Texas Unemployment Compensation Act, which is Title 4, Subtitle A of the Texas Labor Code. The Act is available online at www.texasworkforce.org (choose the link for Job Seekers and Employees; then Employee Rights and Laws), and it is in the Vernon's law book series found in most public libraries.
Q. How Do I Qualify?
The law sets qualifying requirements in three main areas: your past wages, your job separation, and ongoing availability and work search. You must meet all of the requirements to receive benefits. 1. Your past wages To establish a payable claim, you must have received enough wages to meet the requirements. TWC uses the wages paid to you during a recent 12-month period, called the base period, to calculate your benefit amounts. The base period is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters before you filed your claim. (Calendar quarters are three-month periods beginning with January, April, July, or October.) This means that when TWC calculates benefits TWC can't use earnings in the calendar quarter in which you filed your claim, or the quarter just before that. TWC bases your weekly benefit amount on the highest quarter earnings in your base period. TWC divides that high quarter's total earnings by 25 to get your weekly benefit amount. TWC may have to change this amount to be inside the allowed range of benefit amounts in Texas. Your maximum, or total, benefit amount is the smaller of 26 times the weekly amount, or 27% of all your wages in the base period. Your weekly benefit amount will be between $58 and $392 depending upon the wages you earned. To have a payable claim, the law requires that:
- You have wages in at least two of the four base period calendar quarters being used, and
- Your total base period wages are at least 37 times your weekly benefit amount, and
- If you qualified for benefits on a prior claim, you must have earned 6 times your new weekly benefit amount since that time.
If you were out of work for a prolonged time during the base period because of a medically verifiable illness, injury, disability, or pregnancy, tell TWC because you may be able to use an alternate base period. If you meet the requirements, the alternate base period could use wages you received before your illness or injury. If you qualify under both base periods, you decide which base period to use. 2. Your separation from your last work You must be unemployed or partially unemployed through no fault of your own to receive benefits. You should be prepared to present evidence that you tried to correct the problem before you quit. Examples of qualifying reasons are:
- You were laid off due to lack of work.
- You are still working but the employer reduced your hours. (Your reduction in hours must not be the result of a disciplinary action.)
- You were fired without work-related misconduct. Examples of misconduct are a violation of company policy; violation of law; neglect or mismanagement of your position; or failure to perform your work acceptably if you are capable of doing so.
- You quit your job for a good well-documented work-related or medical reason. TWC may rule good cause if the work situation would cause a person who truly wants to keep the job to leave it.
- Ongoing availability and work search requirements During each week you claim benefits, you must:
- Make an active search for full-time work, unless TWC exempts you from this requirement
- Be physically able to work
- Be available for full-time work
- Apply for and accept suitable work
- Be registered for work search online at www.texasworkforce.org, (click on WorkInTexas.com), or with the nearest workforce center
- Call TWC, or call or report to a workforce center, as instructed