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Hawaii Unemployment QuestionsWhat is Unemployment Insurance?
Unemployment insurance is a program administered by the Unemployment Insurance Division of the State Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. The purpose of this program is to provide temporary financial assistance to workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own and who meet the requirements of the Hawaii Employment Security Law. Unemployment insurance benefits are paid as a matter of legal entitlement and past employment, and not on the basis of need.
Who Pays for Unemployment Insurance?
In Hawaii, employers pay all the costs of unemployment insurance through a payroll tax or reimbursable basis. Employees do not pay any part of their wages to finance the program.
Who qualifies for Unemployment Insurance?
You must first establish a valid unemployment claim by meeting the following two monetary qualifications:
- you must have been paid wages in two or more calendar quarters of your base period and,
- you must also have been paid wages totaling 26 times your weekly benefit amount in your base period
The standard base period is the first 4 of the last 5 completed calendar quarters immediately preceding the effective date of your claim. The effective date of your claim is the Sunday of the week in which you first apply. If you do not qualify using the standard base period, an alternate based period can be used. The alternate base period is the last 4 completed calendar quarters.
For example, if you file your claim on January 5, 2009, then the effective date of your claim is Sunday, January 4, 2009, and your standard base period is the first 4 completed quarters from October 1, 2007 to September 30, 2008. If the wages in the highest quarter of your base period is $8,400, then your weekly benefit amount would be $400 per week. You must have wages in at least two quarters of your base period and paid total wages of at least $10,400 in your base period.
If you worked in other states besides Hawaii (including the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, or the Virgin Islands) in the base period of your claim, you may be able to combine the wages to meet the necessary monetary qualifications or to increase your weekly benefit amount.How much do I qualify for and how long can I collect?
Your weekly benefit amount is calculated by dividing the wages in the highest quarter of your base period by 21. However, your weekly benefit amount (WBA) cannot be more than the maximum weekly benefit amount, which is determined each year by law.
For example, the maximum weekly benefit amount for claims effective on or after January 4, 2009 is $545 a week. The maximum amount that you can be paid on your claim is 26 times your weekly benefit amount. If your weekly benefit amount is $545, then the most you can be paid on your claim is $14,170. The minimum weekly benefit amount is set by law at $5 a week. Your claim is good for one year from the effective date of the claim; however, you can be paid for only 26 weeks of total unemployment during the one-year period that your claim is effective.How do I register for work with the State Workforce Development Division?
You must register for work with the State Workforce Development Division (WDD) within seven calendar days after applying for benefits. To register for work, you must post your resume online at www.hirenethawaii.com, the internet job matching system used by WDD. You must post your resume on the website by making it available to employers online and in the virtual one-stop format. Internet computers are available at the One-Stop centers or at pubic libraries. If you need help in completing your registration, call or visit a One-Stop center. The addresses and phone numbers are in the back of the Handbook on Unemployment Benefits or go to http://hawaii.gov/labor/wdd.
What is Partial Unemployment?
You can earn up to $150 a week and still receive your full unemployment check. If you are still employed and working and earning less than your weekly benefit amount, you may qualify for the difference between your earnings over $150 and your weekly benefit amount. For example, if you earn $200 during a week and your weekly benefit amount is $300, you can still receive $250. However, if your earnings during the week equal or exceed your weekly benefit amount, you will not be entitled to benefits.If you are still employed by an employer in the above situation, the following rules apply:
- You need to have your employer complete a "Weekly Report of Low Earnings" to verify your earnings for the week. These forms are available from your local claims office.
- You must not refuse any suitable available work during the week in question.
Your eligibility will be determined by whether a work stoppage existed at the establishment where you were last employed. Information will be obtained from your employer and from your union representatives to make this determination. If no work stoppage exists and you meet all other requirements, benefits will be allowed. A Notice of Decision on Unemployment Insurance Claim covering the weeks you filed for will be sent to you. Other decisions may also be made to determine your eligibility. Information which you should report include: strike pay, sick pay, vacation pay, social security, pensions, disability or illnesses, schooling, trips, and self-employment. If more information is needed, you will be contacted by a claims examiner to make this determination.