Workers who are collecting unemploymentand “perform services” for 32 hours or more per week aren’t eligible to receive benefits for that week. If they work for fewer than 32 hours, they do receive benefits.
But what about time spent on-call? Do those hours count toward the threshold? A recent court decision says they don’t.
Recent case: Jolene worked for Thermospas Hot Tub Products until she was laid off for six months. When called back, she again began selling products strictly on a commission basis.
She had to be available to work 32 hours per week. Leads for possible customers were frequently scarce, and Jolene often went two weeks without a lead. Because she was required to be on standby, she could not work another job.
When she had no appointments, Jolene did paperwork, followed up with customers—and searched for more secure employment. She also collected unemployment compensation benefits, claiming just the hours she actually worked. Jolene reported an average of 13 hours per week, with the most hours reported being 25 in one week.
She was denied unemployment compensation based on being on stand-by for a full 32 hours per week. Jolene appealed.
The Court of Appeals of Minnesota reversed, concluding that she was eligible for benefits because she didn’t actually “perform services” other than waiting during most of the 32 hours per week she had to be available. (Van Wyhe v. Thermospa Hot Tub Products, et al., No. A14-1786, Court of Appeals of Minnesota, 2015)
Final note: The court did say that hours spent doing volunteer work or engaged in self-employment count as “performing services.” What doesn’t count is sitting around at home waiting for possible leads that may or may not come in.