A temporary layoff is when an employer removes staff employees from their jobs for a short amount of time. This can happen for a variety of reasons:

  • The job is a seasonal position
  • The workplace is undergoing renovations
  • Weather conditions render work impossible, and operations need to be suspended temporarily

I Have Been Laid Off Temporarily – Can I Collect Unemployment Benefits?

Depending on your state, you may be able to collect unemployment benefits for the time you are laid off if your employer does not pay you for your time off. This can be true even in the case of regular seasonal layoffs, which is common in certain states such as Alaska

However, in some states, if you are given an opportunity to work elsewhere, such at another branch of your company, rejecting that opportunity could mean forfeiting your right to collect unemployment benefits for that time. Similarly, if you decline an employer’s offer to pay you for the time laid off, you cannot collect unemployment benefits.

Collecting unemployment benefits when the employer offered to pay you or if you received another opportunity for employment would be employment fraud and would result in criminal charges.

Does It Make a Difference If I Volunteer For the Layoff?

Generally not. The only exceptions would be if you volunteered for the layoff for personal reasons rather than for the companies benefit. Examples include school, marriage, or self-employment. 

Can I Also Extend Unemployment Benefits?

If your layoff is extended and you were granted unemployment benefits, there should not be a problem extending the benefits as well.

If the layoff becomes permanent, it would depend on the reasons that the layoff became permanent. If the reasons were the same as the original reasons, i.e. downsizing, there should not be a dispute. On the other hand, if the layoff was made permanent because you quit the position or because of misconduct on your part, then the benefits will not continue.  

What Happens If There Is a Strike?

If there is an employee strike, only the workers who attempted to cross the picket line but were refused entry can apply for unemployment benefits. Employees who join the strike do so at their own cost.

Should I Contact a Lawyer About My Temporary Layoff?

Because the laws on this issue can be quite complex and vary significantly from state to state, you should speak with a lawyer on this issue. An employment attorney can advise you on how to collect benefits, and if a claim for benefits has been denied, a lawyer can help you appeal that decision.