Being a substitute teacher is a career that can sometimes mean inconsistent employment, especially during the summer. The National Substitute Teachers Alliance says you have to check your state unemployment laws to see if you qualify for unemployment benefits during this period. Some states do provide it, with certain provisions. If you belong to a teacher’s union, the union can help you.

Eligibility in Los Angeles, California

Substitute teachers who are part of the Los Angeles substitute teacher’s union (United Teachers Los Angeles) can apply for unemployment during summer or most other parts of the year. But it’s only if you’re available to work five days a week. As with most unemployment in all states, you can’t exceed a certain amount in earnings to qualify. The UTLA site says that this has to be under $450 a week. You also can’t give up the opportunity to work in a given week for more than four hours.

Summer Unemployment through UTLA

Through the United Teachers Los Angeles, you can get unemployment during the summer months. The UTLA sees being a teacher as a year-round job, so summer isn’t considered a recess period. It’s only during winter break in December and January when the UTLA says unemployment can’t be obtained due to this period being officially a recess. You also can't get unemployment compensation if you work as a substitute teacher only from September through June. The only exception to summer not being a recess in this case would be if you made under $450 per week during your base period, which is calculated as one year before you filed for unemployment.

No Unemployment in Texas

If you work as a substitute teacher in Texas, you may have trouble obtaining unemployment benefits. Here, the state considers summer to be a part of a school break. Some districts, including the Tomball, Texas, Independent School District, also may prohibit you from working as a substitute teacher in the future if you apply for unemployment.

Unemployment Year-Round in Connecticut

In Connecticut, a controversial law is on the books that, as of 2010, doesn't hold any prejudice over who's a full-time teacher and a substitute one. The law allows a substitute teacher to apply for unemployment any time of the year. However, this law has been contested in Connecticut in 2010 due to the ease of abuse to the system. Few records were available of when substitute teachers worked last. Because of this, many teachers unknowingly had invalid claims due to a lack of definitive rules. But two management computer programs called Aesop and SubFinder are currently being used in some districts to keep better record of when substitute teachers were last employed. Disputes of unemployment claims have nevertheless continued.