Employees who work for educational institutions on a temporary basis from semester to semester—substitute teachers, for example—may be eligible for unemployment compensation if they are offered a substantially different position (with lower pay) the next term.
But if the new assignment is essentially the same as the previous assignment, they can’t refuse the offer and receive unemployment compensation.
Recent case: Anthony Putaro worked as a substitute teacher for the Carlynton School District over the course of a full school year. In the beginning, the district offered him day-to-day substitute positions when available. However, during the year he also substituted for longer periods of time when a teacher went on . That meant steady work and more pay.
After the summer break, the school district again offered him a temporary substitute position. He balked and applied for unemployment, arguing that what he was being offered was significantly less than he had actually worked the year before. He claimed that he had therefore not been given reasonable assurance of continued employment—one of the conditions that can justify refusing work and collecting unemployment.
But the Commonwealth Court disagreed. Because the offer at the beginning of the school year was the same offer as the year before, the offers were economically equivalent. Plus, there was nothing in the agreement that said he wouldn’t have had a chance to substitute for other teachers on longer leaves this year, too. (Carlynton School District v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, No. 260 C.D. 2007, Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, 2007)
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