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I've been working at my current job for about a year and a half. I work and average of about 40 hours a week ( some weeks more and some weeks less ). I got payed on W2, but have no insurance, benefits, paid time off. My employer recently informed me that he did not need me ( for at least two months possibly indefinitely ) I'm going to start looking for jobs, but in the mean time I want to apply for unemployment, just to make sure that i can cover my rent and such until I find something. Am I eligible for unemployment in this situation? If he hires me back or I find a different job, can I just discontinue unemployment?

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According to the state of New York, you may be eligible for unemployment. New York Labor Department Covered or Excluded Employment

Unless excluded by law, all services an employee performs for a liable employer is covered. This applies whether it is:

  • Part-time
  • Full-time
  • Temporary
  • Seasonal
  • Casual

Employees may perform services:

  • On or off the employer's premises
  • In their own homes

But what's "excluded by law"?

Excluded employment: The services of certain employees are not covered under the Unemployment Insurance (UI) Law. Their earnings are not subject to contribution. They are not entitled to UI benefits based on such services.

You'll need to view the full list to see if you are supposed to be covered or excluded, based upon the sector of your employment. But generally, most people are covered.

Note that, at least in the state of New York, even part time, tempory, or seasonal/casual workers are covered by unemployment.

If you are not clearly excluded, then it is absolutely likely to be worth your time to file for unemployment, you can be done online at New York Department of Labor Website. Note that you are expected to do this "promptly" (ideally in the first week you are informed you are laid off), and there is a minimum week "waiting period" before you receive any money at all. However, so long as you are honest and provide the paperwork they request, the worst they can do is tell you that you aren't eligible, and you've just lost a little time.

In closing, please remember that unemployment benefits are insurance - if you are eligible both you and your employer have been paying money into the system. This is not some kind of welfare or charity - it is insurance you have been paying into for years (if you have been - otherwise you aren't eligible at all), and you should not hesitate to make a claim when you are able to do so.

Oh, and to answer your final question - yes, if you get a new job or are hired back you will just notify the unemployment service and they will discontinue paying you based on their timing policy (it might be after your first day of new work, or some period after that - laws vary, so check with the Department of Labor to be sure so you can plan your finances accordingly).

Good luck on the application and your job hunt!

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By "non-salary", do you mean you're paid hourly? Either way, if your employer pays you a wage and deducts payroll, unemployment insurance and other taxes from that wage, and you were laid off, not fired then yes, you'd be entitled to draw unemployment.

Keep in mind though that your unemployment benefit (in most states here in the U.S., anyway) is not a dollar-for-dollar match for what you were earning at the job you were laid off from. My suggestion is to use this handy little tool to get an idea of what you might receive:

Online unemployment calculator page

And here's a good explanation from the Nolo.com website on unemployment that might be a good read for you as well:

How Unemployment Works from Nolo.com

Everything varies from state to state, including how much unemployment you can draw, for how long, and under what circumstances. You need to research this carefully to know what all of your options are so you make the best choices under your particular circumstances.

I hope this helps.

Good luck!

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