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A Guide to Your Rights & Responsibilities When Claiming Unemployment Benefits in Connecticut
Your Reason For Being Unemployed: Are Benefits Allowable?

If your employer has indicated on your unemployment notice that you were laid off for lack of work or your job was eliminated due to a work force reduction, you will normally be determined eligible for benefits without the need for a hearing of any type.  However, if your employer has indicated on the notice that you quit or were discharged for misconduct or some other reason, a hearing will normally be scheduled with an adjudications specialist at the Career Center nearest you within ten to fourteen days from the date you first file.  Your employer will be mailed a notice of this hearing and will be asked to provide a statement in person, by telephone, or in writing regarding your job separation. 

At the hearing, you will be asked questions about the circumstances under which you became unemployed.  You should answer these questions directly and honestly.  The hearing is informal.  You have the right to present any evidence, documents or witnesses you wish, as does your employer.  You may furnish a written statement if you desire.  You will be given a questionnaire to guide you regarding the types of questions likely to be asked.  You have the right to be represented by anyone you choose. If you discover during the hearing that you need additional evidence, documents or witnesses to present your case fully, you may request that the hearing be continued and rescheduled for a later date to be determined by the adjudications specialist. 

Following the hearing, the adjudicator will make a decision as to whether your reason for becoming unemployed is or is not disqualifying under Connecticut Compensation Law.  If you are disqualified, you will receive a letter explaining the legal reason for the disqualification, usually within a few days.  You may appeal this decision to an Employment Security Appeals Referee (see "Appeal Rights").  If you are found eligible, you will be mailed a check for each week you have claimed to date.  Your former employer may appeal a decision awarding you benefits. 

In general, the Connecticut Unemployment Compensation Act is intended to provide benefits to workers who are out of work through no fault of their own.  When a worker quits a job, benefits may be awarded only when the worker has shown good cause attributable to the employer for quitting.  When a worker is fired, benefits will be awarded unless the conduct that caused the discharge is disqualifying under the law. 

Any separations from employment must be reported including any separations from part-time work that occur while filing for benefits.

If You Quit Your Job 

The  general  rule  is  that  a  person who  voluntarily  leaves  suitable  work without good cause attributable to the employer is not eligible for benefits until he or she has returned to work and earned ten times his or her weekly benefit rate.

For good cause to be attributable to the employer, it must somehow relate to the wages, hours or working conditions of the job you voluntarily left.  A change in conditions created by your employer or a breach of your employment agreement which is substantial and adversely affects you might be good cause for leaving attributable to the employer.  In addition, good cause attributable to the employer may exist if the job itself adversely affects your health or aggravates or worsens a medical condition. 

Regardless of the cause for leaving, in most cases, good cause attributable to the employer may only be found if you took reasonable steps to inform your employer of your dissatisfaction and sought to remedy the problem before you left. 

Since you are the one who quit the job, it is your burden to prove that there was good cause for leaving.  Reasons that are not considered good cause attributable to the employer, that will result in disqualification from benefits under current law include: quitting for a better job and quitting to relocate with your family. 

There are, however, seven reasons that are not specifically connected with the work, but the law says are proper reasons for approving a quit.  Benefits may be awarded if you are otherwise eligible. These are:

1. if you have left work to care for a seriously ill spouse or child, or a parent  domiciled with you, provided the illness is documented by a licensed physician; 
2. if you have left work because your means of transportation to and from work (other than your personally-owned vehicle) has been discontinued, provided no reasonable alternative transportation is available;
3.  if you accepted other employment while on a layoff from your regular   work, and then left that other employment when you were recalled to your former job;
4. if you left work that was outside your regular apprenticeable trade to return to work in your regular apprenticeable trade;
5. if you left work solely because of governmental regulation or statute;
6. if you left part‑time work to accept full‑time work. 
7. if you left work to protect yourself or a child domiciled with you from becoming or remaining a victim of domestic violence, provided you made reasonable efforts to preserve your employment.

If You Quit Part-time Work 

The law provides for a limited disqualification when an individual voluntarily quits a part‑time job.  When a disqualifying voluntary leaving of part‑time work precedes a non‑disqualifying separation from full time work, the wages earned from that part‑time employer must be removed from the Base Period and cannot be used in determining  Monetary Eligibility.   In such cases,  Monetary Eligibility will be determined based on any wages that remain in the Base Period.  The removal of the part‑time wages may result in no change to the Weekly Benefit Rate, a lowered rate or the elimination of the rate. 

Whenever such a disqualification is imposed, you will be notified by letter and a new Monetary Determination will be issued to you showing which wage credits were used and the Weekly Benefit Rate that resulted. In addition, if you quit a part‑time job without sufficient cause after a compensable (approvable) separation from full time employment, you may still be eligible for benefits, but the amount will be reduced by two‑thirds of the gross wages you were being paid on that part‑time job. 

If You Were Discharged 

If you have been fired or suspended, you may be disqualified from benefits until you have earned ten times your weekly benefit rate and are otherwise eligible if your employer proves that the reason he fired or suspended you was one of the following:

1. Willful misconduct in the course of your employment.  The term Awillful misconduct@ means deliberate misconduct in willful disregard of the employer=s interest, or a single knowing violation of a reasonable and uniformly enforced rule or policy of the employer, when reasonably applied, provided such violation is not a result of the employee=s incompetence.  In the case of absence from work, Awillful misconduct@ means an employee must be absent without notice or good cause for three separate instances within an 12-month period.
2. Conduct which is a felony under Connecticut law or federal law and occurred in the course of your employment.
3. Conduct which constitutes  larceny of property or service whose value exceeds 25 dollars in the course of your employment.  Also conduct which constitutes larceny of cash regardless of the amount of such currency.
4. Participation in a strike which is illegal under federal or state law or  regulation.
5. You were sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 30 days or longer and had begun serving that sentence.
6. You were discharged or suspended because you were disqualified under  state or federal law from performing the work for which you were hired as a  result of a drug or alcohol testing program mandated by and conducted in accordance with such law.

If You Retired 

A worker who voluntarily retires from a job is ineligible for benefits until he or she has again been paid wages equaling 40 times his/her weekly benefit rate and is otherwise eligible.  Generally, retirement is defined as an individual's withdrawal from the labor market.  The fact that a person receives a pension upon termination of his employment does not always mean that he/she has retired.  To determine if a person has retired, we must assess the person's intent at the time he/she left the job.  However, if the reason for the retirement is because the job has become unsuitable in light of the worker's physical condition and the degree of risk to health and safety, the worker may still be eligible for benefits, provided he/she requested other work from the employer which was suitable and the employer did not offer him/her such work.  A worker whose retirement was not voluntary is normally eligible for benefits, provided he or she is able and available for full time work. In addition, in certain instances, a worker's retirement will be treated as involuntary if the retirement was induced by the employer in an effort to close a facility or eliminate the worker's position, or if the worker reasonably believed the employment would be severed if he/she rejected the employer's inducement to retire.  The portion of your pension benefit that relates to your employer's contribution is deducted from your weekly benefit rate.

If You Are Involved in a Labor Dispute 

You will be ineligible for benefits during any week in which your unemployment is due to the existence of a labor dispute other than a lockout at the factory, premises or other establishment at which you have been employed.  You may be found eligible for benefits even if your unemployment is the result of a labor dispute if you can show either:

1.  You are not participating in, financing or directly interested in the labor dispute which caused your unemployment and you do not  belong to the trade, class or organization whose members worked on the premises immediately before the labor dispute began and are participating in, financing or directly interested in the dispute, or
2. Your unemployment is due to a lockout. A lockout exists when an  employer:
  (a) fails to provide employment to workers with whom it is engaged in a  labor dispute either by physically closing the plant or informing the workers there will be no work until the labor dispute has terminated;  or
  (b) announces that work will be available after a  contract has expired   only under terms and conditions less favorable than the last terms   and conditions of employment.

In each of the above situations, for a lockout to exist, the workers' union or representative has to inform the employer that the workers involved in the dispute are willing to work under those last terms and conditions pending negotiation of a new contract. 

Leave of Absence 

If you are on a leave of absence from your employment, a hearing will be held to determine whether you are able and available for full‑time work. If the reason for your leave is medical ‑ you are physically unable to perform your normal job and your employer has no other suitable work for you ‑ you may be eligible for benefits if you are physically capable of performing some other type of work and are looking for work in that field.  If your leave of absence is for a definite time period, you must, at a minimum be available for temporary full‑time employment.  Depending on your circumstances, we may advise you regarding any more specific work search obligations. 

If your leave of absence was essentially voluntary in nature and your regular job or some other suitable work is available to you, and you are capable of performing it, then the adjudications specialist  will probably find that you are not eligible for benefits since you are not available for suitable work ‑ in this case, your regular job.

Educational Employees

Employees of public and nonprofit educational institutions may not be paid benefits based on services performed for such institutions between academic years or terms and during vacation and holiday recesses if they have a contract or reasonable assurance of returning to work in the same or similar capacity when classes resume. If you are an employee of an educational institution who is filing for benefits between academic years or terms or during a recess, you should identify yourself as an educational employee when you first file, so that you can be provided with more detailed information regarding  this provision of the law and how it applies to you. (See "Educational Employment/Professional Athletes")

If You Are a Professional Athlete 

If substantially all of the services you performed in your base period consist of  participation  in sports or athletic events or training or preparation for such participation, you will not be paid benefits between sports seasons if you have a reasonable assurance of performing the same type of services in the ensuing sports season.  (See "Educational Employment/Professional Athletes")

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