FAQ: Can Furloughed Federal Employees Get Unemployment

Question

“I am being furloughed soon and live in California.  Can I get unemployment compensation?”

Answer

Possibly.  This is a state by state issue.  For example, in the state of Tennessee, the following guideline applies,

In order to file during the mass meetings, the claimant must have been laid off from his job due to lack of work and must have a separation notice or letter from his employer stating that the separation was because of lack of work or reduction in force (sometimes written as furloughed).  Tennessee employers are urged to provide each of their employees a separation notice stating separation due to lack of work. 

Clearly, the use of the word: furlough is evident.  However, the state then uses the phrase, “due to lack of work.”  Many states will actually have special rules for federal employees so it is important to contact them directly and as soon as possible upon furlough notification.

California eligibility requirements are,

An individual who files for unemployment insurance benefits must meet specific eligibility requirements before benefits can be paid. Individuals must:

  • Have received enough wages during the base period to establish a claim
  • Be totally or partially unemployed
  • Be unemployed through no fault of his/her own
  • Be physically able to work
  • Be available for work which means to be ready and willing to immediately accept work
  • Be actively looking for work
  • Meet eligibility requirements each week benefits are claimed
  • Be approved for training before training benefits can be paid

In the California example, there is no use of the word: furlough.

Your local Human Resources office should be able to provide state specific information and possibly even coordinate your application.

[7/8/13 note:  CNN ran a good article on this subject on May 29, 2013.  Click Here to read that article]

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