New York Significantly Expands Availability of Partial Unemployment Insurance Benefits

Effective January 18, 2021, eligibility for partial unemployment insurance (UI) benefits are no longer limited to employees who work three or less days per week. Instead, partial UI benefits are available to individuals working up to seven days a week, as long as the individuals: (1) do not work more than 30 hours in a given week; and (2) do not earn more than $504 in gross pay in that same week.

Prior to January 18, 2021, the NYS DOL reduced an individual’s UI benefit eligibility by 25% for every day in which in any work was performed – even just one hour of work.  Now, the state is no longer focusing on the number of days that an individual works when determining the amount of partial UI benefits for which an individual qualifies but instead uses what it describes as an “hours-based approach” to make that determination.

Pursuant to these new guidelines, the amount of UI benefits to which a partially employed individual is entitled is calculated as follows, assuming that the individual’s gross weekly wages total $504 or less:

  • 4 or fewer hours of work/week = 0 days worked: No reduction in weekly benefit rate
  • 5 – 10 hours of work/week = 1 day worked: 75% of weekly benefit rate
  • 11 – 20 hours of work/week = 2 days worked: 50% of weekly benefit rate
  • 21 – 30 hours of work/week = 3 days worked: 25% of weekly benefit rate
  • 31+ hours of work/week = 4 days worked: 0% of weekly benefit rate

The key takeaway from this change is that it provides employees and employers with greater flexibility for scheduling and performing part-time work, because the work no longer needs to be consolidated into three days or less per week in order to avoid reductions in or total disqualification from UI benefits for that week.

In addition, employees are entitled to a greater amount of UI benefits if they work only a few hours each day. For example, under the prior method of calculating partial UI benefits, an individual who worked a three-hour shift on one day would have had their UI benefits eligibility reduced by 25% but, pursuant to this new hours-based approach, an employee who only works one, three-hour shift will not experience any reduction in their UI benefits eligibility for that week.

Similarly, if an employee had worked three-hour shifts on four days in a given week prior to January 18, 2021, the employee would not have been entitled to any UI benefits for that week. Now, assuming that the employee earns less than $504 that week, the employee will be entitled to partial UI benefits at a 50% reduced rate.

For more information about partial UI benefit eligibility, FAQs, and downloadable fact sheets in several languages, please click here to be redirected to the NYS DOL website.

If you have questions about unemployment insurance, or any other HR matter, please contact us at 631-794-7400 or