• EDITOR'S NOTE: This information was compiled when Gannett instituted furloughs for earlier this year. The information will be updated now that the company has said it will have more furloughs in 2010.
What to do about furlough benefits
Gannett announced March 23 it would implement more furloughs for the second quarter. The company originally announced furloughs Jan. 14 for employess across its U.S. divisions and at corporate headquarters. Can you collect any state unemployment benefits during this time off?
• Use your furlough time to job hunt: FIND A JOB
We contacted the unemployment office from each state with a Gannett daily and asked what employees should do, if they are eligible and if it would make a difference to take the time in consecutive days, or five separate days. The information is below.
Michigan, which has a handful of Gannett dailies, leads the nation with a 12.6 percent unemployment rate. Oregon, with one Gannett daily, jumped from 10.7 percent in February to 12.1 in March, which is second in the nation. South Carolina (one Gannett daily) is third at 11.4 percent, and California (four Gannett dailies) is fourth at 11.2 percent.
• All but top execs exempt in Detroit: Crain's Detroit Business reported that employees of the Detroit Free Press and the JOA partnership group are again exempt from furloughs. Crain's reported the 13 top executives will each take a two-week furlough this year. CRAIN'S ARTICLE.
• Hawaii exempt again: Employees at The Honolulu Advertiser are also exempt again, according to Advertiser publisher Lee Webber, who told the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, "We're not included and we're just keeping our fingers crossed."• USA Today exempt: But the top 15 percent of salaried employees will be required to take two weeks of unpaid leave. FROM: newsday.com
• What did you do on your furlough? E-mail us | Read about others
• USA Today: Tips on surviving a furlough | Furlough fever
• How stimulus affects: COBRA | JOBLESS BENEFITS | WALLET
If you know of something that should be added, send us an anonymous note in the form below, or by e-mail to email@example.com.
• Fur-links: Post-Gazette | CNN Money | ABC Ariz. | ABC | Advice
• Headline: Unemployment checks going up $25
• Headline: Benefits for jobless set too low (Tucson Citizen editorial)
In Arkansas, Gannett owns: The Baxter Bulletin. Sherry Jones, an unemployment insurance technician for the Arkansas Department Of Workforce Services wrote:
• "Let's first look at how a claim is established in Arkansas: When an individual becomes unemployed, he or she should file an initial application for unemployment insurance in order to establish monetary eligibility for benefits. To qualify for a valid claim, a person must have worked and earned enough wages in what is called the base period. The base period covers work performed in the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters. (For example, if a person files a new claim for benefits in March 2009, the base period will include wages earned from October 1, 2007 through September 30, 2008.) The work must be covered work, which means that the employer has paid unemployment insurance tax on the wages earned by the claimant. If monetarily eligible, the claimant will establish a weekly benefit amount and a maximum benefit amount.
"Once the claim is established, the individual then must submit continued claims for weekly benefits each week he or she is unemployed. A week of unemployment is defined as a calendar week, beginning at 12:01 a.m. Sunday morning, and ending at midnight the following Saturday. When the week is over, the individual will answer a set of questions that pertain to his or her availability and work status during the week that just ended. If any work is performed during the week, the work hours and earnings must be reported. The gross amount of earnings and other types of payment from the employer must be reported when the week is claimed. Benefits are reduced by any wages earned which exceed 40% of the weekly benefit amount, and any earnings over 140% are considered to be excessive to the claim and no UI benefits will be paid. Therefore, as long as the person works less than 40 hours during the calendar week and earns less than 140% of the weekly benefit amount, he or she would be eligible to receive the credit or payment due for the week claimed. It is not a matter of how many days are worked during the week — it is the number of hours and gross wages earned during the week."
• Should people file even if they don't qualify for benefits from these days? "If a person is unemployed even partially during the week, they may submit an initial application for benefits and establish the claim. Then, if they are laid off later in the year, they may reopen the existing claim. However, keep in mind that once a claim is established, it is in effect until the claim expires. An individual cannot decide later on that it would have been more advantageous if the claim had been based on a different time period (the base period). Once the claim is set up, it is good until the beginning of the same quarter of the following year. For example, a new claim filed in the first quarter of 2009 (January, February or March) is in effect until the first quarter of 2010 begins — January 01, 2010. Another new claim cannot be filed until January 2010."
• When to file? "A person should file their initial claim for benefits as soon as they become unemployed, if they are interested in establishing a claim. A claim is effective the day it is submitted in person, faxed, or postmarked. There are many DWS offices located across the state, and the claimant can choose the local office closest to where they live or work for their convenience."
• On the state's formula for compensation: "The maximum benefit amount is determined by the following formula: The total base period wages divided by 3; or the weekly benefit amount multiplied by 26 - whichever is the lesser amount. To obtain the weekly benefit amount, divide the base period quarter with the highest earnings by 26. The total base period wages must equal at least 27 X the weekly benefit amount."
• Headline: Arkansans deal with unemployment
In Delaware, Gannett owns: The News Journal.
Tom MacPherson, the state's director of unemployment insurance, wrote "It is our understanding that News Journal employees will be asked to take a 1-week unpaid furlough. Under such a scenario, an employee would be eligible for UI benefits during the unpaid furlough. An individual should file the UI claim during the week after the last day of work prior to the furlough."
• Asked if there's a minimum amount of days off to qualify for benefits: "This depends on how much an individual earns during that week and what his/her unemployment weekly benefit is determined to be."
• On the state's formula for compensation: "The UI weekly benefit amount is 1/46 of the earnings in the two highest calendar quarters of the last four of the last five calendar quarters. The minimum weekly amount is $20 and the maximum weekly amount is $330."
• Headline: Jobless rate spikes across Florida
In Hawaii, Gannett owns: The Honolulu Advertiser. There are about 500 unionized Gannett employees in Hawaii, according to an Advertiser story, and the paper was exempt from the furloughs for both the first and second quarters.
Ellen Kai, an unemployment insurance program specialist with the state, did respond, however, and we will leave the information here.
• Asked if there's a minimum amount of days off to qualify for benefits: "To establish an unemployment claim, past wages are used to qualify for unemployment benefits. In Hawaii, you need wages in at least 2 quarters and total wages of at least 26 times your weekly benefit amount in your base period. The base period is the first 4 of the last 5 completed quarters. If wages are insufficient in the standard base period, an alternate base period consisting of the last 4 completed quarters can be used. To be eligible for benefits, the individual must have gross earnings less than the individual's weekly benefit amount and work less than full-time hours.
• Is there a difference in taking five days together or spread out? "Yes. If 5 days of furlough are taken in one week and the individual does not work at all, then the full weekly benefit amount is payable provided all other eligibility conditions are met.* A week of unemployment runs from Sunday to Saturday. If 1 or more day(s) of furlough are taken per week and the individual works less than full-time, gross earnings must be reported and are deducted from the weekly benefit amount less the first $150. If the individual's gross earnings exceed the weekly benefit amount, no benefits are payable.
"*Please note that every individual must serve a waiting period week in each claim before any payments are made which is the first week of eligibility. If only 1 week is filed, then that week will be credited as the waiting period week and no benefits are payable."
• So should people file for future considerations? "As mentioned above, if the individual has gross earnings which are less than the weekly benefit amount, then the waiting period can be served. The unemployment claim is good for a one-year period. If the individual becomes unemployed again within that one-year period, the individual must reactivate the same claim and would not have to serve a waiting period week again on that claim."
• When to file: "Individuals can apply when hours are reduced but in order to be paid for any week, gross earnings must be less than the individual's weekly benefit amount. The claim is effective from the week during which the individual files. If the individual was a full-time employee and is still attached to the employer, a partial claim may be taken and can be backdated 28 days."
• On the state's formula for compensation: "An individual's weekly benefit amount can be calculated by taking the highest quarter of wages in the base period and divide by 21. The maximum weekly benefit amount for 2009 is $545."
• Link: hawaii.gov/labor/ui/worker-benefit-claims-information-test, look at the links under "Handbook on Unemployment Benefits," "Hawaii Tele-Claim Instructions" and "Claim Filing Process."
• Headline: Unemployment pay up $25
• From: www.in.gov/dwd/2431.htm: "Indiana law requires the serving of a waiting period week, which means you do not receive a check for the first week of your claim if you meet eligibility requirements."
• The state's main unemployment Web site: www.in.gov/dwd.
• Headline: A look at Indiana unemployment benefits, taxes
Jennifer Nutting wrote: "It has to do with the weekly benefit amount they are qualified for."
• "(Employees) would have to report gross wages due to the days at work and then this is what they used to formulate the amount deducted from the weekly benefit amount."
• "5 days is enough if they can monetarily qualify for benefits."
• On the state's formula for compensation: "If a person is off due to no fault of their own they can file the day they find out there is no work for them whether it be one or multiple days. If you would like you can go to iowaworkforce.org and look under Unemployment benefits also."
• Link: iowaworkforce.org, look under Unemployment benefits.
Kim Brannock wrote: "I have listed three links to our OET Web site that might be helpful. You also may want to talk to your company's tax advisor or attorney for more information."
• Headline: Hard times requiring sacrifices
• The state's main unemployment Web site: laworks.net
• Headline: State’s initial unemployment claims falling
In Maryland, Gannett owns: The Daily Times.
Denise Harris-Laxey from the state's unemployment agency wrote that she could not directly answer questions because benefits can only be determined for specific claims after they are filed. She said people can file initial claims, view a listing of claim centers and find more information on the state's main unemployment site.
• Headline: Md. unemployment following national trend
The Lansing State Journal published an article Jan. 16 about the state unemployment agency being inundated with calls and included relevant information on filing claims.
• Headline: Unemployment rate jumped to 11.6% in January
In Minnesota, Gannett owns: St. Cloud Times.
Jim Hegman, the unemployment insurance program's performance and outreach director for the state's Department of Employment and Economic Development, declined to provide any information other than a Web site. "We don't ordinarily answer questions from anonymous sources," he wrote in a reply to an e-mail from this Web site, but not cited to an individual.
• The state's unemployment Web site: uimn.org
Under the eligibility page, it says people must "serve a one-week waiting period (benefits cannot be paid for this week)." But a claim must be made for the week in order to claim it later, if needed.
•The state's unemployment Web site: HERE
• Headline: Unemployment rate rose sharply in January
In Missouri, Gannett owns: Springfield News-Leader.
Betty Bax responded from the state's unemployment agency, saying "We look at the week from Sunday through Saturday for unemployment insurance purposes. If you have not worked during the week or have had reduced hours of work you could be eligible for benefits or for waiting week credit. If your earnings for the week are less than your weekly benefit you could be eligible for partial benefits or waiting week credit ($20.00 or 20% of your weekly benefit amount is not deductable)."
• The state's main unemployment Web site: dolir.mo.gov/es.
• Headline: Unemployment rate hits 8% in January
In Montana, Gannett owns: Great Falls Tribune.
Donna Rogers, an administrative specialist with the state's department of labor and industry, replied with the following:
• In there a minimum amount of non-work days to qualify for benefits? "Claimants can receive partial benefits for any week the work less than 40 hours and have gross earning less than twice their weekly benefit amount — after they have served one waiting week. The waiting week is the first week of their claim in which they are otherwise eligible to receive benefits. Benefits are not paid for the waiting week. They must also meet all the other eligibility requirements under MT law and administrative rule. They are required to report all the hours they work and their gross earning for every week they wish to claim benefits."
• Is there a difference in eligibility if the days are taken together or spread out? "If they do not work at all during a calendar week, they would be eligible to receive full benefits for that week — as long as they meet all the requirements shown above. If they spread out the 5 days in 5 different weeks, they may be eligible for partial benefits for each of those 5 weeks — as long as they meet all the requirements shown above."
• Should people file even if they don't qualify for benefits from these days? "In Montana, they can file their claim as soon as there is a reduction in their hours. The first week of their claim will be their waiting week as long as they would otherwise be eligible to receive benefits. So, assuming the individual meets all the eligibility requirements, if they take all 5 days in the week they file their claim, that week would be their waiting week (no benefits paid). They if they are forced to take more days off, are fired later in the year, they could reactivate the claim and would not be required to serve another waiting week. If they opt to take 5 days off in 5 different weeks and they file their claim during the first week of reduced hours, (assuming they meet all the eligibility requirements) the first week of the claim would be their waiting week and then they could receive partial benefits for each of the 4 remaining weeks of reduced hours."
• When should people file? "They can file their claim the first week they experience a reduction in their hours. They can file their claim on-line at UI4U.mt.gov. If they do not have computer access, they can go to their local Job Service/Workforce Services office or local library. Or, they can file their claim by calling the Claims Processing Center at (406) 444-2545. Like most states right now our Claims Processing Center phones are extremely busy, so if they chose to use this method to file their claim, they will need be patient and keep trying."
• On the state's formula for compensation: "The compensation is based on the wages from all employment that were reported in the base period of the claim. The base period is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters.
1.) The total base period wages must be at least $15,713.00, OR 2.) Their total base period wages must be at least $2,200.00 and their total base period wages must be at least one and on-half times the quarter in which their wages are the highest.
Weekly Benefit Amount:
If they have the required wages to establish monetary eligibility, their weekly benefit amount will be the greater of the following two calculations:
1) 1% times their total base period wages, OR
2) 1.9% times the two highest quarters.
The weekly benefit amount will not be less than $120 or more than $407."
• The state's main unemployment Web site: uid.dli.mt.gov.
• Headline: Second tier of unemployment benefits available
In Nevada, Gannett owns: Reno Gazette-Journal.
• The state's main unemployment Web site: HERE
• Headline: Unemployment at 7.3% for January
• According to a story by Fox 23, weekly unemployment benefit checks increased by $25 due to stimulus funds. The state's benefits also extended from 26 to 59 weeks, the first $2,400 became exempt from federal taxes and 65% of COBRA funds are covered.
• Headline: Jobless rate could hit 10%
In North Carolina, Gannett owns: Asheville Citizen-Times.
The state's unemployment agency responded by directing us to the state's main Web site.
• Headline: Jobs growth sliding before recession
In Ohio, Gannett owns: Telegraph-Forum, Chillicothe Gazette, The Cincinnati Enquirer, Coshocton Tribune, The News-Messenger, Lancaster Eagle-Gazette, News Journal, The Marion Star, The Advocate, News Herald and the Times Recorder.
• Headline: For those out of work, it's back to '84
In Oregon, Gannett owns: Statesman Journal.
According to a reply from the state's unemployment insurance agency, an employee may get tripped up on whether they qualify for benefits due to availability to work. "If someone can work 4 out of 5 days in a week, but chooses to be on furlough instead, then there is a question of the person's availability for work," the reply said. The note also suggested filing online due to a heavy workload.
• On the state's formula for compensation: "The weekly benefit on a claim is 1.25% of the wages paid to the person in the base year of the claim, within limits set by law. If someone wants an estimate of his/her weekly benefit amount," go to this site.
• Headline: Jobless rate hits 9.9 percent
In South Carolina, Gannett owns: The Greenville News.
• Headline: State's jobless rate revised down
In South Dakota, Gannett owns: Argus Leader.
Sharon Schnabel of the state's unemployment agency wrote: "Please see the State of South Dakota Department of Labor Web site at www.sd.uiclaims.com for information concerning eligibility requirements in South Dakota.
"At this site you will find links to Frequently Asked Questions as well as a link to the guidebook. In particular, you may want to read the information on wage requirements, deductions from benefit and eligibility requirements.
"In South Dakota, the first valid weekly certification after filing a new claim is called a waiting period week. The waiting period week is not paid, but the claimant must file a certification for that week and make job contacts if required to do so. Benefits are paid for the next valid weekly certification.
"Claims can be filed on the Internet at the above address or by calling the UI Claims Center at 1-605-626-3179 between 8 a.m. and 4:20 p.m. Central Time Monday through Friday except for state holidays."
• Headline: Jobless rate up to 4.4 pct in January
Jeff Hentschel replied from the state's department of labor and workforce development:
• Is there a minimum amount of non-work days to qualify for benefits? "To be paid benefits for any week, a claimant must have a qualifying reason to apply and the total gross wages earned during the UI Week must be less than the claimant’s weekly benefit amount. A UI week is calculated from one Saturday night midnight to the following Saturday night midnight. Gross wages are those earned during this seven-day period. If the gross wages are equal to or exceeds the claimant’s weekly benefit amount, the week is considered to have excess wages and be disqualified."
• Is there a difference in eligibility if the days are taken together or spread out? "Yes, being employed most of the week would probably result in excess wages and the week would be disqualified."
• Should people file even if they don't qualify for benefits from these days? "When a claim is filed, the base period is set up with wages and the claim may be used with in the next 52 calendar weeks if the individual is otherwise eligible. An individual must have worked and earned sufficient wages from covered employment (the employer pays Unemployment Insurance (UI) taxes on the earned wages) to become eligible monetarily. The three primary conditions of eligibility are sufficient wages earned in covered employment during the base period to set up a monetarily eligible claim. This means that the claimant would have worked long enough to qualify for a weekly benefit amount and be entitled to a maximum benefit amount. The claimant must have a qualifying reason for separation from the separating employer. This means that when investigated the claimant’s separation will not be caused by his or her work related actions. And the third condition, is that the claimant must be able to work, available for work and making a reasonable effort to secure work."
• When should people file? "Individuals should file a claim after they are separated from their work. Generally if you are separated after working the majority of the work week, you would file the next week of total unemployment. Gross wages earned in a week that exceed the maximum weekly benefit amount ($275) or the claimant’s individual weekly benefit amount would disqualify the week from serving as a waiting period or being a payable UI week. If in doubt, always file the claim. An individual may file by telephone 1-877-813-0950 or 615-253-0800 and on the Internet at www.tennesseeanytime.org/labor."
In Utah, Gannett owns: The Spectrum.
John Olson replied from the state's unemployment agency. Olson said the first eligible week of a claim is a non-pay week, but said, "If people are furloughed and feel that in the near future a longer furlough or separation may occur it is good to file."
Olson also said, "The (unemployment insurance) benefit payment is made weekly. If a person earns more than their weekly benefit amount, they will not be eligible for UI benefits for that week."
• When to file: "People should file their claim immediately after their last day of work."
• Compensation formula: "Compensation is based on a percentage of an individual's high quarter earnings during a 12-month period called a base period. The number of weeks is calculated by multiplying the total wages for insured work during the base period by 27 percent, and then dividing that number by the weekly benefit amount."
• Headline: Unemployment creeps toward double digits
In Vermont, Gannett owns: The Burlington Free Press.
Valerie Rickert, the director of the state's Unemployment Insurance and Wages Division, wrote "Anyone working less than 35 hours MAY BE eligible for a partial benefit; factors include the total amount of gross wages earned and the amount of his/her weekly benefit amount. One can not apply for benefits unless they are partially or totally unemployed."
The state has a 10-day waiting period, but claims during that time are paid after information is confirmed with employers.
Rickert provided a link to a PDF of the state's unemployment handbook. Information on how to calculate benefits starts on page 12 of the handbook.
• Headline: Unemployment rate expected to rise
In Virginia, Gannett owns: The Daily News Leader.
The state has a one-week waiting period which does not begin until the claim is filed. Benefit amounts are computed based on wages from a specific 12-month period, which is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters before the effective date of a claim. Claims are effective on Sunday of the week in which the claim is filed. Benefit amounts range from $54 per week to $378 per week.
• Headline: Unemployment offices see influx of job seekers
In Wisconsin, Gannett owns: The Post-Crescent, The Reporter, Green Bay Press-Gazette, Herald Times Reporter, Marshfield News-Herald, Oshkosh Northwestern, The Sheboygan Press, Stevens Point Journal, Wausau Daily Herald and The Daily Tribune.
The following was sent to us from the state's unemployment agency:
• On eligibility: "Eligibility is not based on the number of days off of work. When someone files a claim, they establish a base period and weekly benefit rate. Once that is established, they are then deemed eligible in any given week based on the total gross wages that they earn in that week using the weekly benefit rate formula as listed here: Using the partial wage formula, the first $30 of earnings are forgiven or subtracted from the weekly earnings and the balance multiplied by 67%. The resulting amount is deducted from the weekly benefit amount."
• On differences between five days together or split: "The only difference may be in the amount of benefits that they are eligible for in multiple weeks versus a full week of benefits."
• When to file: "People should apply in the first week that they are unemployed and wish the claim to start."
• Formula for compensation: "To compute a benefit rate:
1.) Determine the four quarters that fall within the base period. *
2.) Determine which quarter has the highest amount of total wages (the high quarter)
3.) Take 4% of those total wages to determine the claimant's weekly benefit rate and round down to the nearest dollar.
4.) Currently the maximum rate is $355 (effective 02/07). To qualify for the maximum rate, the claimant must have earned high quarter wages of at least $8875.
5.) Currently, the minimum rate is $53 (effective 02/07). To qualify for the minimum rate, the claimant must have earned high quarter wages of at least $1325."
• Headline: Wisconsin unemployment rate rises