How Much Job Is No Job?
January 11, 2010 9:12 AM   Subscribe

California unemployment: Where's the threshold for a reduction of hours constituting job loss?

In California, at what point does an employer-mandated reduction of salary/work expectations constitute job loss and eligibility for unemployment insurance?

Say you're a full-time, salaried, exempt employee, and instead of laying you off your employer cuts your salary/work expectations to half of one percent of full-time, or 12 minutes a week. I'm confident that California law would see that as a loss of job, and you'd be unambiguously eligible for unemployment insurance.

But what if your employer only cuts your salary/work expectations to sixty percent, or fifty percent, of full-time? Where's the threshold where you can successfully claim loss of job even though your employer continues to offer some part-time version of the full-time job you signed up for?

I can't find the answer at California EDD, and they're not responding to my queries. Perhaps someone here has fresh research to share . . . ? I'm asking in particular about salaried positions, not hourly positions -- but if you know about both, I certainly won't object if your answer contains bonus knowledge!
posted by gum to Work & Money (4 answers total)
California EDD won't tell you a thing, period. You can't contact them and ask questions, unfortunately. From what I have been told (guess why), it doesn't count for anything if it's a time reduction.
posted by jenfullmoon at 12:27 PM on January 11, 2010

Though I can't seem to find anything by googling, I do know that two of my co-workers were both forced to go from full time to part time (40 hours per week/20 hours a week) and were able to get unemployment. (Though, I'm not positive if they filed differently than had they been let go.)

Also, you can get unemployment if you are working, if you are earning less than the amount of unemployment. I was on unemployment during the summer of 2009, and I earned about 600/month on unemployment. I also worked one day a week at a coffee shop, so whatever earnings I reported from that was taken out of the 600.

Hope that helps!
posted by too bad you're not me at 12:33 PM on January 11, 2010

IANYL, but I was an employer for many years in CA. There is more than one issue involved in your description. First, you describe the individual as a "...full-time, salaried, exempt employee..." Under California law as I understand it, the person you describe has to have a job description that includes direct management responsibility and authority over the work product of others. It hardly seems possible that someone could manage others if their own hours were drastically cut.

Second, if that person were to have hours cut on a continuing basis (not just for a week for instance) then EDD would most likely provide partial unemployment compensation for the partial loss of employment hours. This would probably not apply to someone who was originally hired for part-time employment, but would most likely apply to someone with a substantial record of full-time employment.

Generally speaking, EDD does not give blanket advice on issues like these. If you think you have a claim, they want you to file that claim and let them consider the facts that apply specifically to your claim. Your employer will be notified of the claim and will have the right to challenge it.

Remember that CA is an at-will employment state and your employer can terminate your employment for any non-discriminatory reason.
posted by Old Geezer at 5:04 PM on January 11, 2010

I don't have direct personal experience with this, but many of my colleagues and friends do. The short answer is yes, you can get compensation for reduced hours. I have no idea what the threshold is, a few years ago money was available to people who had lost 20%-25% of their hours from a 40 hour week.

nthing what Old Geezer said: file the claim and let EDD sort it out.
posted by Xoebe at 10:33 AM on January 12, 2010

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