Partial Unemployment Reform

Why reform partial unemployment

Currently,  New York’s unemployment insurance (UI) program grants workers reduced UI benefits during periods of partial unemployment, when employees have their hours reduced to part time because of employer cutbacks, or when current UI claimants who lost a full-time job pick up part-time work while they continue to look for a full-time employment.

Unlike nearly every other state, New York’s UI program bases the partial benefit amount days worked rather than earnings for that week. For every day in a week on which any work is performed, up to four days, a claimant’s weekly benefit drops by 25%, even if it’s for less than an hour. A worker receives no benefits if she works for any portion of four days or more. This is the case even if a claimant is not paid for this work. If she’s paid, she cannot earn more than New York’s current $405 maximum benefit.

Low-wage workers are hit the hardest by these restrictions, as the unstable scheduling endemic to the retail sector means workers may be showing up for many shifts a week but receiving very few hours.

The Legislation

In 2014, the New York State Legislature adopted new work‐search rules and required that long‐term claimants accept lower‐ paying work. Make Work Pay NY and coalition partners are pushing for A.7278a/S.6572 to bring the state’s partial UI policy in line with those of other states.