Can I Work Part Time & Receive Unemployment Benefits in Pennsylvania?

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry (PDLI) offers unemployment benefits to part-time workers who lose income through no fault of their own. As long as those workers can qualify through the standard requirements, they can receive payments. The PDLI guidelines also allow you work part time and still receive benefits if the amount of those wages is small enough.

Definition

Neither the U.S. federal government nor the Pennsylvania state government define what constitutes part-time work. Instead, each employer defines part-time work based on the setup of the organization. Generally, employers consider you a part-time employee if you work less than 35 hours a week, but that can vary depending on the company. Since there is no law defining a part-time worker, there is no law determining whether a part-time worker can collect Pennsylvania unemployment-insurance benefits.

Eligibility

If your employer considers you a part-time worker, you have to meet the same eligibility requirements to collect unemployment benefits as anyone else. First, you must not be responsible for your unemployment. For example, if you quit your job voluntarily you can’t collect unemployment. You also can’t collect if you were let go for failure to perform your job duties or follow company policy.

The second qualification factor is how much you made during your base period. If you count back through the past five full calendar quarters before you filed your claim, the first four of those quarters are your base year. You must have at least sixteen credit weeks, or weeks you earned more than $50, during that year. You also must have made more than $800 during the highest earning quarter. Finally, you must have made at least twenty percent of your high-earning quarter wages in the other three quarters.

Working While Collecting Benefits

Some unemployment claimants find sporadic part-time work while collecting unemployment benefits. In this case, the partial-benefit credit will apply, which is 20 percent of your weekly benefit amount. You can earn up to your partial-benefit credit and still collect your unemployment benefits. Everything you earn over that will be deducted from your weekly payment to the nearest dollar.

Fraud

Some unemployment claimants are wary of working part time or reporting their part-time income because they are afraid of losing their unemployment benefits. When you collect unemployment in Pennsylvania, you must log in to the system every two weeks and certify that you’re looking for work and not turning down opportunities. You also have to report any money you earned during the previous two weeks. If you intentionally turn down work to stay on unemployment or intentionally conceal the fact that you’re working, you are committing insurance fraud. In Pennsylvania, you can be ordered to pay back any fraudulently collected benefits and be banned from collecting future benefits. In extreme cases, you can receive a criminal charge for this activity, which may result in fines and jail time.

References

About the Author

Michaele Curtis began writing professionally in 2001. As a freelance writer for the Centers for Disease Control, Nationwide Insurance and AT&T Interactive, her work has appeared in "Insurance Today," "Mobiles and PDAs" and "Curve Magazine." Curtis holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication from Louisiana State University.