FileUnemployment

Are Church Employees Eligible For Unemployment Insurance?

Updated : June 11th, 2019

Unemployment is a one of the most challenging phases of life. It not only affects day to day routine and takes a toll on your financial well being, but also affects mental health to a great extent. If you’re the breadwinner and have a family, you will know the pain joblessness causes. Thankfully in the US, we have a well laid out Unemployment Insurance program that provides up to 26 weeks of unemployment compensation to those who lose their job due to involuntary reasons. This system is jointly administered by the Federal – State set up with funding that is drawn from various sources and includes contribution by the employer on behalf of the employee.

Unemployment Compensation in the US

To facilitate and administer a well maintained compensation system for unemployed citizens, the Federal Unemployment Tax Act(FUTA) has authorized the IRS(Internal Revenue Service) to collect annual taxes from the employer which is later pooled and routed to State Unemployment Agencies for the purpose of funding exclusive UI programs run by each state. Each of the 50 states along with District of Columbia, Puerto Rico & U.S Virgin Islands run their own unemployment insurance programs with dedicated authorities in accordance with the prescribed rules by the United States Department of Labor.

Up to 6 months of regular Unemployment Benefits are paid out to the salaried class who’re out of work due to involuntary reasons such as Layoffs. However not all jobless claimants qualify for the dole. Workers such as Contracted & Seasonal along with Church employees are not generally eligible due to some obvious reasons. The most important reason being, non-payment of unemployment taxes into the system which naturally makes workers in this industry, ineligible. As a leading forum for unemployed workers in the country, we get a good number of questions from jobless church workers who are curious to know if they qualify for the weekly monetary compensation from the government.

A straightforward answer to those laid off from employment in churches is that you do not qualify to receive unemployment compensation simply because churches do not remit taxes that contribute to the corpus. However, there are exceptions. The alternatives have been explained in the next section.

Unemployment Benefits for Church Workers

The root cause of church employees not being outrightly eligible for Unemployment Compensation is simply because churches and religious organizations are exempt from paying unemployment taxes that go as funds into the system as per specific clauses under Unemployment Insurance Act of 1935. Since Unemployment Laws are a state subject, nearly all states exempt churches from paying taxes on behalf of their employees that contribute towards relevant funds. This is the primary reason why church employees cease to qualify. However, if a church decides to have a policy in this regard where they pay unemployment taxes voluntarily, the employee can receive unemployment benefits after separation from the job.

Church Employees Do Not Qualify For Unemployment Insurance
Church Employees Do Not Qualify For Unemployment Insurance

Around 13 diocese in the country voluntarily participate in unemployment programs administered by states by paying taxes through means of specific agreements with state labor authorities. For example, The Richmond, Va., diocese voluntarily pays taxes in the state of Virginia to ensure temporary financial assistance for former employees.

To overcome unavailability of unemployment benefits to church workers, some of them offer a severance package as a part of their Human Resource policy. Such an arrangement helps retrenched employees to manage loss of job for a certain period. A select few purchase employment insurance package through a private insurance to provide compensation.

If you’re someone who works with the church and is being laid off or an acquaintance is facing this situation, be prepared since you will not qualify for state provided unemployment compensation. As a diligent worker, check with the church management or HR representative if there are alternative options that work in your favor. Otherwise, save up for the rainy day and work hard towards finding a job.

It’s quite natural for a former church employee to scout for jobs in the government sector. Recruitment with government agencies is slightly different from that of private and corporate world. The competition is stronger since government jobs are most preferred by job aspirants. There are thousands of job openings in various government agencies, both onshore and offshore in other countries. Your approach towards job search in government sector should be different.

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  1. I work for a church pre school program and I have lost my job due to coronavirus. When I applied for unemployment in Texas it says that two does not except this employer as my last employer. I’ve been working there for 13 years. What do I do?

  2. Chad ….. how do I get thru when it wont accept my ID or my password. I change it 5 times and it still wont work. Calling is not working at any time when I spend and whole day calling back to back to get thru. why don’t they just help or force the employers ( company) to place they claims in for their workers like GM did……I NEED HELP…PLEASE.

    1. Chad,

      We understand this might be a difficult time for you. We’re anticipating a shortage of staff across unemployment offices due to the massive surge in UI applications considering the pandemic. We advise against calling or visiting the office, as you may not get a response instantly.

      Your state may have activated “Extended Benefits (EB)” authorized by the federal government. We recommend you apply for UI benefits online. For more information, please visit your state’s official Unemployment website.

  3. i live in ga…all the day cares have shut down my wife and i have full time jobs,,,but i have to leave my company which i have been there for over two years,to take care of our child….can i still collect unemployment…this covid virus is why i have to leave my job…

    1. Gary,

      We understand this might be a difficult time for you. We’re anticipating a shortage of staff across unemployment offices due to the massive surge in UI applications considering the pandemic. We advise against calling or visiting the office, as you may not get a response instantly.

      Your state may have activated “Extended Benefits (EB)” authorized by the federal government. We recommend you apply for UI benefits online. For more information, please visit your state’s official Unemployment website.

  4. are you kidding me my son lost his job on 10/17/2020 hes mentally challenged and cant file on his own because he doesn’t know how so I started going to sites trying to file for him and the residence inn Marriott promised to help him and have done zip . ive tried 10 different sites and I keep getting dropped wen I complete forms and push submit. 12 days now n still cant file a claim.

    1. Martin,

      There’s only one website you should be trying from. Please let us know your state and we’ll share the website information.

  5. I have submitted my forms EXACTLY as I was instructed too on line. Even though I have filled out the paperwork correctly I keep getting emails asking for me to fill out the form that I have done multiple times already. Remuneration – Claimant Questionnaire is the issue. I got online and requested a phone call. 3 days ago. I just need to know that you guys received everything and I don’t owe any more information.
    Nobody answers the 617-626-6800 number. Just get directed to the internet. Well, you can’t speak with the internet. I am getting mixed messages and I fret that this will delay any benefits.
    Could someone please give me a call.

    1. James,

      Please try finding answers online since there might be limited phone support due to the shortage of staffing. This is a private forum and we’ll not be able to arrange a callback.

  6. I work for a church that has grown it’s congregation over almost 40 years and we now have 26 mostly full time employees, most being here many years. Will our employees be able to file and receive benefits since we are an EXEMPT from paying unemployment industry? State of Florida

  7. My unemployment benefits ran out 3/1/2020 am I able to file for extended benefits ? I live in California and am 62 years old.

    1. Ariana,

      We understand this might be a difficult time for you. We’re anticipating a shortage of staff across unemployment offices due to the massive surge in UI applications considering the pandemic. We advise against calling or visiting the office, as you may not get a response instantly.

      Your state may have activated “Extended Benefits (EB)” authorized by the federal government. We recommend you apply for UI benefits online. For more information, please visit your state’s official Unemployment website.

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