Are those hired specifically as temporary employees eligible to receive unemployment benefits when their period of employment ends? In most cases, the answer is yes. They most certainly are eligible to receive benefits.
If those people have sufficient wage credits in their base period and are both available and looking for work, they qualify for benefits. As a reminder, in most states a base period is the twelve-month period consisting of the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters. If the temporary staff member was told in advance that their employment would be temporary, that fact is irrelevant. If they meet your state’s requirements, then they will qualify for benefits.
As with all employees, your agency has potential liability for up to two years for temporary hires, even though their previous employer, if they had one, may be liable for the current year.
There is one major exception to this rule. Many summer camp employees who are full-time students are ineligible to receive benefits because they are returning to school and are not able and available for full time work. This is explained more below.
Some Camp Staff May Be Exempt from Unemployment Coverage
Here’s an important tip for organizations with summer camps. In many states including [California, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, or Virginia] you should be aware that your state exempts certain camp staff from unemployment coverage. That can be a potential saving to you since it means these staff members would not be eligible for unemployment benefits once the camp season ends.
Rules vary from state to state, but generally speaking your organization qualifies for this exemption if it meets the following two requirements:
- The staff members are full-time students who work at the camp fewer than 13 weeks, in a single year.
- The camp is an organized camp that operates fewer than seven months out of the year.
To take advantage of camp staff savings, you should exclude the wages for the exempt full-time students from your quarterly unemployment wage report.
501(c) Agencies Trust has become aware of situations in which an outside payroll service was simply unfamiliar with this exemption and inappropriately reported camp staff wages. When this happens, the state will usually pay benefits for those summer camp employees who file for unemployment and will charge the employer for the benefits paid.
Since each state’s quarterly report format and definition of summer camp staff is different, we urge all 501(c) Agencies Trust members to verify with their payroll department or payroll processing services that summer camp staff are being reported in the manner that they intend.
It’s important to note that this exemption applies only to the reporting of wages for unemployment coverage. Employers are still required to include these wages when filing their quarterly wage reports for personal income tax (state and federal), FICA, workers’ compensation, and any other payroll related requirements.
Benefits and Payroll Reporting for AmeriCorps Employees
AmeriCorp employees’ payroll should not be reported to the state for state unemployment insurance.
Employees from AmeriCorps, and similar work-study programs, are not eligible for unemployment benefits based on wages they earn while in those programs. However, employers may inadvertently establish benefit liability by reporting AmeriCorps employees for unemployment purposes. Reporting AmeriCorps employees, for non-unemployment purposes, may be proper. But, if AmeriCorps employees are reported for unemployment purposes, the state will utilize the reported wages when determining the individual’s eligibility for unemployment benefits if they apply for benefits and are otherwise deemed to qualify.
If by some chance, AmeriCorps employees’ names appear on unemployment reports prepared for the state by your payroll department or a payroll company, the names of those individuals should be deleted from the payroll report and the total should be recalculated. If the employees’ names appeared on past reports, you should go back at least five quarters, prepare corrected reports, and submit them to the state.
Members of 501(c) Agencies Trust should call 800-442-4867 (ask for Doug) for more advice about who can collect unemployment benefits. We’re happy to help.