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Suitable Work Requirements for Unemployment

Information on What is Considered Suitable Employment

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Many states require unemployed workers to accept "suitable work" if they receive a job offer. In general, what determines suitable work includes pay, working conditions, health, work skills and commuting distance.

State Suitable Work Requirements

Each state defines suitable work in the laws which regulate unemployment compensation. This means that what is considered suitable employment varies from state to state.

For example, in New York suitable work is defined as a job within one hour's transportation, within 80% of the claimant’s previous earnings and where the pay is the prevailing rate for that work. In addition, suitable work is defined as a job for which you are reasonably fitted by training and/or experience. After a certain amount of benefit weeks (currently 13 and 10 effective 2014) are claimed, suitable work includes any work that you are capable of performing whether or not you have any experience or training, unless you obtain employment through a union hiring hall or have a definite date to return to work.

In California, suitable employment means work in the individual's usual occupation or for which he or she is reasonably fitted. The follow factors are evaluated when determining whether a job is suitable: "... the degree of risk involved to the individual's health, safety, and morals, his physical fitness and prior training, his experience and prior earnings, his length of unemployment and prospects for securing local work in his customary occupation, and the distance of the available work from his residence, and such other factors as would influence a reasonably prudent person in the individual's circumstances."

Suitable Employment Requirements for Extended Unemployment Benefits

In some states, the criteria for recipients of extended unemployment benefits is much stricter that for those collecting state unemployment benefits (Regular UI). For example, in some states claimants may have to accept any job where the work is within their capabilities, the weekly wages for the work exceeds the claimant's extended weekly benefit amount, and the pay is above the minimum wage.

In some locations, union workers who are registered with their local union hiring hall are exempt from suitable work requirements.

Check With Your State Unemployment Office

Failure to accept suitable work can mean that your unemployment benefits will be terminated, so it's important to know your state's requirements before you decline any job offer. State laws vary, so check with your state unemployment office for the suitable work requirements for your location.

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