Does Lack of Work Qualify for Unemployment?

by Michaele Curtis; Updated September 26, 2017

To collect unemployment, you must show your job separation is through situations beyond your control. A lack-of-work claim is one of the most common reasons to collect unemployment because it implies that the only reason you are unemployed is that your employer had no work to give you. The state verifies this with your former employer. If your former employer responds with another reason for your job separation, the state may ask you for evidence to prove you were let go for lack of work.

Lack of Work

In terms of job separation, “lack of work” is a situation where your employer doesn’t have enough work to justify keeping you on the payroll. Essentially, he can’t afford to keep you on so he terminates the employment. Often, this is called a layoff. It implies that your job performance was up to par and the only reason your employer let you go was because he had to.

Unemployment Eligibility

While a lack of work is bad for your job stability, it’s actually good news when you file for unemployment benefits. Unemployment compensation is only for people who are unemployed through no fault of their own. While each state interprets that differently, every state recognizes being laid off because of a lack of work as an eligible job separation. In fact, in some states, any other reason for your job separation requires a suitable explanation before you can collect benefits.

Employer Verification

To verify your job separation, the state contacts your former employer. It usually sends a notice to the business address and asks that he respond to the notice within a certain window of time if he disagrees with it. Employers pay payroll taxes based in part on the amount of former employees collecting unemployment. So if you weren’t laid off because of lack of work, your employer is likely to tell the state and provide documentation to avoid paying extra payroll taxes because of your benefits.

Proving It

If your employer tells the state your job separation is for something other than lack of work, the state then contacts you to clarify the situation. You could have to prove your job separation qualifies for benefits by submitting compelling evidence. This could include your job separation paperwork from your employer, often called a pink slip. If you have any other written communication from your employer that implies you were laid off for lack of work, you could also use that to prove your case. Notarized witness statements from former coworkers are also helpful.

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.