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A Guide to Your Rights & Responsibilities When Claiming Unemployment Benefits in Connecticut
Availability For Work

You must be physically and mentally able to work during each week for which you claim benefits.  You must be available for full‑time work during each week for which you are claiming benefits.  This means you must be ready, willing and able to accept any suitable work.  If you place unreasonable restrictions on the type of work you are willing to accept or how far you are willing to travel to a job to such an extent that you are no longer genuinely exposed to your normal labor market, you may be denied benefits on the grounds that you are not available for work within the meaning of the law.  For example, if your entire work experience is as a skilled carpenter, you are still physically capable of working as a carpenter, you have no other marketable skills and carpentry jobs exist in your area, then your unwillingness to accept any employment as a carpenter would probably result in a determination that you are not available for work because you have seriously reduced your prospects for finding suitable work. 

If you have a reasonably certain date of recall by your former employer or a definite starting date with a new employer, you must be available for suitable temporary full‑time work during the time before you are scheduled to return to work in order to comply with the law regarding availability.

During the weeks immediately after you first become unemployed, you may limit your work search to employment that is equivalent to your highest previous wage and skill level.  However, after a reasonable period, if you have not found new employment, you will be expected to broaden your availability to other types of work and to jobs which may pay less than your highest previous wage. You may be interviewed periodically by Career  Center staff, who will advise you regarding what you must do to insure that you comply with the legal requirement of availability for work. 

Registration for Employment Services 

At the time you file a new claim, you will also be registered for employment services to help you return to work as soon as possible.  You must maintain an active employment registration as long as you continue to file weekly claims for unemployment compensation.  Visit your American Job Center for job seeking assistance.  (See American Job Center.)  Unless you have a definite date to return to work with your former employer in the immediate future, your registration will result in consideration for referrals to appropriate employment-related services, as well as direct referrals to employers for job openings.  You may be notified of employment opportunities either by telephone or by a notice sent in the mail.  In either case, you must respond and follow through immediately.  Failure to report immediately to the  Career Center if sent a call-in notice or to an employer if given a job referral could result in your being disqualified from benefits until such time as you have returned to work and earned six times your benefit rate. 

Refusal of Suitable Work 

In determining whether you had sufficient cause for refusing a job or a referral to a job, the Career Center will consider whether the job you were offered or referred to was suitable for you.  Factors to be taken into account are whether the job is in your usual occupation or if it is work for which you are reasonably fitted, whether the job is within a reasonable distance of your home, your prior training, experience and skills, your previous wage level and how long you have been unemployed, and whether the job poses any unreasonable risks to your health or safety.  In addition, CTDOL staff will  also consider whether the wages, hours and working conditions of the work offered or referred to are substantially less favorable than those prevailing for similar work in the same area. 

In some cases, an offer of temporary work may be an offer of suitable employment when the factors which determine suitability are considered.  A temporary employee of a temporary help service who refuses to accept suitable employment when it is offered by such service upon completion of an assignment may be disqualified.

It is important that you respond to a call‑in notice from the Career Center to learn about the job.  If you are uncertain about whether the job described is suitable for you, then you should accept the referral and report to the employer to learn more about it.  Remember, if the job is found to be suitable under the law, you may be disqualified from benefits for either failing to accept the job offer itself or for failure to apply for the job when referred by the CTDOL staff. 

In addition, whenever it is reported to the CTDOL that you have refused any offer of employment, a hearing must be conducted to establish whether or not you refused the job and whether the work offered was suitable under the guidelines which have been described. Benefits may be delayed for up to five working days pending a final decision.  If it is determined that you refused suitable work, you will be disqualified from benefits effective with the week you refused the job.  (See "What if Eligibility for Benefits is Questioned?" and "Registration for Employment Services") 

Attendance at a School, College or University 

If you are separated from employment, become eligible for benefits and then decide to begin attending a school, college or university as a regularly enrolled student, you may continue to collect benefits, provided you are available for and seeking full‑time work which does not conflict with classes.  (If you quit your job in order to attend school, on the other hand, you will be disqualified from receiving benefits).  If you were a full‑time student anytime during the two years prior to your separation from employment, you must also have been a full‑time employee during that same two‑year period in order to receive this consideration. Otherwise, you must be willing and able to change classes or drop out of school if you find a job which conflicts with your classes. 

Eligibility for Benefits While Enrolled  in an Approved Training Course 

If, after you have been determined eligible for benefits, you enroll in a job training course, you may be exempted from the requirements of being available for work, making efforts to find work and having to accept referrals to and offers of work, provided the CTDOL determines that:

1. The training will help you develop the skills or abilities needed to find a job, and there are or will be future employment opportunities for that type of work in the area in which you intend to seek work;
2. Reasonable employment opportunities do not exist or have substantially diminished in your labor market for that type of work you are best fitted to perform at  your highest skill level; and
3. The training facility or sponsor has determined that you are qualified  to complete the training course.

Any training under the Workforce Investment Act falls within these guidelines as approved training.  If you are about to enroll in any training course, you should call the TeleBenefits Line immediately so it can be determined if you can collect benefits while attending training.  Even if you are paying for the training yourself, it may be considered approved training by the CTDOL. 

Pregnancy And New Mothers 

In order to be eligible for unemployment benefits, each claimant must be physically able to work, looking for work and available for work at the hours that are usual for the claimant's occupation.  These rules hold for pregnant women as well as new mothers. 

Your benefits cannot be denied solely because of pregnancy or being a mother, provided you are otherwise eligible.  You will not be required to undergo an informal hearing simply because of pregnancy. 

You may not be asked if  you are  pregnant unless it is physically obvious.  At that point, you may be required to provide a medical certificate indicating the expected date of delivery and the last day on which you will be able to work. 

After giving birth, you may qualify for benefits as soon as you are physically able to work, looking for work and otherwise eligible, and file a claim.  If you file within four weeks of childbirth, your eligibility for benefits will be evaluated at a hearing. 

You may not be asked about breast-feeding.  As with all claimants, you will be asked to name the person who will provide child care while you work.  Once that question is answered, you may not be asked anything further about child care arrangements. 

If your employment was terminated because of pregnancy, you may be eligible for benefits provided you are physically able to work, looking for a job and meet all other requirements.  If you left work or are on a leave of absence because of pregnancy but are able to do another type of work and are otherwise eligible, you may collect benefits while pregnant.  It is emphasized, however, that you must be otherwise eligible.  You will not be required to accept unsuitable work nor be denied job referrals to potential employment solely because of pregnancy.

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