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If I'm Laid Off, Can I Get Unemployment Benefits?


I've been notified that my teaching contract will not be renewed for next school year. I know other teachers are being laid off because of state and local budget cuts. If I don't find another teaching job, can I get unemployment benefits?

The Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) administers the unemployment program and will decide whether you will receive benefits. VEC will review whether you meet requirements for:
1. monetary qualification
2. separation qualification
3. weekly eligibility

You must have been employed and earned sufficient money to get unemployment benefits for losing your job. So VEC reviews your employment and wage history over a base period.

Unemployment benefits are paid to individuals who separated from employment through no fault of their own. So VEC gathers information about the end of your employment.  The school division will complete a questionnaire. You will be called by a VEC deputy.

The school division can tell VEC that teachers were not reemployed or laid off because of declining enrollment, abolition of subject, or reduction in the number of classes and teachers. The teacher whose position was eliminated is not at fault and should qualify for unemployment benefits.

Even if the school division is eliminating positions, school administrators can give other reasons for terminating your school employment. If Administrators notify VEC you were denied a contract for poor performance, you will have to be prepared to show the VEC you finished out the school and contract year. The performance complaints given as reasons for denying contract renewal should not constitute deliberate misconduct of the type that disqualifies an employee from collecting unemployment benefits.

School administrators may urge you to resign to avoid nonrenewal and protect your prospects for other teaching employment. But, leaving work voluntarily disqualifies you from collecting benefits. You may be able to prove your resignation was not voluntary by showing school administrators initiated action to end your employment and you exhausted all available procedures to protest or change the recommendation. Keep copies of letters or messages, or make notes of the date, time and place, when school administrators told you that your contract would not be renewed. Your VEA/NEA UniServ Director can help you deal with school administrators to learn any reasons you are denied contract renewal, to exhaust the procedures to protest or appeal, and to decide if, when, and how you should resign school employment.

You must be able to work and be available for work to draw unemployment benefits. You will have to register on-line with the VEC and provide VEC with records of your job search.
 
We know it is hard to lose your job and look for another during these hard times. VEA may help you show it was not your fault so you qualify for unemployment benefits.


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