HR Hotline: Can Interns Qualify for Unemployment Benefits?
Q: We hired an intern with the mutual understanding that his job would end at the end of the summer. He now has filed for jobless benefits and is back in school full-time. Are we going to be subsidizing his education with unemployment benefits?
A: If the reason for the end of your employee’s job was that you mutually agreed to a finite period of employment, that would not disqualify him from eligibility for unemployment benefits as a voluntary quit.
Numerous unemployment decisions have awarded benefits to claimants under the following principal:
“The voluntary acceptance of work scheduled to terminate at a certain date does not constitute a voluntary leaving at the end of the period of employment.”
Unemployment officials view this circumstance more like a lack-of-work layoff, since there is typically no offer of continuing work that the departing claimant refuses to perform.
In your case, however, another factor may disqualify your former employee from benefit eligibility: Eligibility for benefits requires that a claimant be available for and actively seeking suitable employment.
In addition, Connecticut Department of Labor regulations specify that “An individual shall be ineligible for benefits if the Administrator finds that the individual has left employment to attend a school, college, or university as a regularly enrolled full-time student for so long as the individual is in attendance.”
Keep in mind that unemployment eligibility decisions are highly fact-intensive determinations, and variations in circumstances, as well as variations in how the same circumstance is presented at an unemployment hearing, will affect the eligibility decision.
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