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Do You Have a Right to Refuse Work While Collecting Unemployment in Massachusetts?

Unemployment benefits, administered by the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance, are intended to provide income protection for workers who are able to work but have lost their jobs. Massachusetts expects those collecting unemployment to look for work while receiving unemployment benefits. Those who fail to look for work or refuse work when it is offered to them can be disqualified from receiving additional benefits.

Unemployment Benefits

Under Massachusetts's unemployment insurance program, workers can receive weekly benefit payments of about half the amount of the average weekly wage they received while employed, up to a statewide maximum. Workers can collect state benefits for up to 30 weeks. Workers with children are eligible for additional payments. Workers who need additional training to help find work can be given 26 additional weeks of unemployment benefits, but the Department of Unemployment Assistance does not pay for training.

Weekly Work Search

Even after a worker qualifies for unemployment benefits, he must certify his eligibility weekly and conduct weekly work searches. Federal regulations require these work searches to maintain eligibility. Workers must perform at least three work search activities on three different days each week, keeping a log of work search activities. These activities can include submitting a job application or resume, registering for work with placement agencies, attending job search seminars or job fairs and reviewing job listings on the Internet, in newspapers or in professional journals. If the department requests a worker's employment search information, he must provide it to keep his eligibility, and the department conducts random audits required by federal regulations.

Disqualification

The department can disqualify claimants at any time, even after they begin receiving benefits. For example, if a worker left his job voluntarily or was fired for deliberate misconduct, he may never receive benefits at all. Workers who refuse suitable offers of employment are also subject to disqualification, even if otherwise qualified. The department sends notices to workers who are disqualified, giving each worker 10 days to file an appeal. Disqualified workers have the right to a hearing and can be represented by a lawyer or other representative.

Part-Time Work

Claimants become disqualified for unemployment benefits when they begin working full-time again. They can work part-time but must continue looking for a full-time job. Part-time work does not reduce a claimant's benefit checks as long as the part-time earnings are not more than a third of the claimant's weekly unemployment benefit checks. For example, as long as the claimant continues to look for a full-time job, he can earn up to $100 per week at a part-time job if his unemployment benefit check is $300 or more.



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