Unemployment in Massachusetts
Unemployment benefits are available to most workers who lose their jobs in Massachusetts. If you have recently been fired or laid off, you may have questions about whether you are eligible for benefits. If you are thinking about quitting a job, you may have additional questions about how that affects unemployment. You can also read some case studies about people we have helped get unemployment benefits.
Eligibility for Unemployment Generally
The general rule is that you can collect unemployment benefits in Massachusetts if you:
Can I collect unemployment if I was fired for cause?
Usually you can still collect even if you were fired for "cause." The only exception is if you were fired for deliberate misconduct. Deliberate misconduct can be one of two things. First, intentional behavior against the employer's interest. Second, you can be disqualified if you were fired for a violation of a clear and uniformly enforced policy. Examples include simply not showing up for work without a reason, violating a clear safety policy, falsifying time records, or stealing from the company.
You will generally still receive benefits if you were fired other reasons. For example, poor performance, employee negligence, or absence or tardiness for legitimate reasons do not disqualify you from benefits.
Can I collect unemployment if I accept severance pay?
If you sign a severance agreement that includes a release of claims against your employer, you can collect unemployment while you are receiving severance pay. Most severance agreements include a release of claims.
If you have signed a release, the money you receive does not count against your unemployment. You may have to show the severance agreement to the department of unemployment assistance. Sometimes your claim will be initially denied. In that case, you can request an appeal hearing. Ultimately you should be entitled to benefits during your severance period.
Can I collect unemployment if I accept an offer to resign instead of being fired?
If you accept a resignation instead of termination, you should be able to collect unemployment benefits. You might delay payment of benefits if you do this. This is because the department of unemployment assistance will see the word "resignation" on your application and initially deny benefits. You can then request an appeal hearing and show that the resignation was in the face of termination. That should result in payment, but it can take a month or more to go through this process.
That means you should think carefully about resigning. Remember that a termination "on your record" is in reality only on the record in your personnel file with your former employer. No future employer is going to see that file. So the benefits of calling it a resignation are limited in the first place.
Can I collect unemployment if I was a 1099 worker or independent contractor?
If you were properly classified as an independent contractor under Massachusetts law you will not be able to collect. The truth is that most people paid as 1099 employees should be considered W2 employees. If your work was subject to significant supervision and control, you might be legally an employee. If you were not also in the business of offering the same services to others, you may not truly be an independent contractor. If the work you were doing was core to the employer's business, you probably should have been classified as an employee.
You can apply for unemployment even if your employer claims you are ineligible- you may be initially denied, but you can request a hearing, and if the DUA finds that you met the statutory definition of an employee, you should be able to collect benefits.
When should I apply for unemployment?
You should not wait to apply for unemployment. If you are denied and are later awarded benefits, those benefits will be back paid to the date you applied. So even if you still have questions about your termination, you should apply for benefits on the first date you are allowed after your termination.
How Can We Help?
If you have questions about your eligibility for unemployment, or need representation in an appeal, we can help. You can use the button below to schedule a call back from a member of our team, give us a call at 781-784-2322, or fill out our web form to let us know a little more about your situation.
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