Unemployment Insurance: Connecticut
Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.
Author: Robbie McKeon
- Unemployment insurance is a joint federal/state program offered nationwide. Based on federal law and executed through state law, the program provides partial wage replacement to unemployed workers while they conduct an active search for work. See Connecticut Unemployment Insurance Program.
- Connecticut unemployment insurance is provided under the Connecticut Unemployment Compensation Law. Most employers in Connecticut are subject to this law. See Connecticut Unemployment Insurance Program.
- Unemployment benefits generally last for up to 26 weeks. See Benefits.
- Unemployed individuals must meet certain requirements in order to be eligible for unemployment benefits. See Eligibility.
- Employers must follow certain recordkeeping and posting requirements. See Recordkeeping; Posting.
- Connecticut offers the Shared Work program, a voluntary program to help employers retain a group of employees who would otherwise have to be laid off. Under the program, employees' hours and wages are reduced and employees receive a Shared Work benefit to help make up the shortfall. See Connecticut Shared Work Program.
Connecticut Unemployment Insurance Program
Most employers doing business in Connecticut are subject to the Connecticut Unemployment Compensation Law, which is administered by the Connecticut Department of Labor. Covered employers pay contributions to the unemployment trust fund, which is used to pay unemployment benefits to eligible workers. Employer contribution rates may vary, since they are based on the claims experience of the employer. Generally, a special rate applies for new employers until they earn a rate based on their claims experience. +Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-225a.
The unemployment insurance program is a joint federal/state initiative, with administrative costs funded through federal unemployment tax.
In some circumstances, an employer is not subject to unemployment taxes and unemployment insurance is not available to its employees. Types of workers not eligible for Connecticut unemployment compensation include:
- Independent contractors;
- Railroad employees;
- A person employed by his or her child or spouse;
- A person under age 21 employed by his or her parent;
- Students working for the school at which they are studying or in a work-study program;
- Insurance agents (except industrial life insurance agents);
- Real estate salespersons who work only for commissions; and
- Partners in a business operating as a partnership.
Generally, Connecticut unemployment benefits last a maximum of 26 weeks. However, benefits may be payable for extra weeks, depending on the rate of unemployment in the state. +Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-232a; +Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-232b. Some key benefit provisions are:
- Weekly Benefit Amount. The maximum weekly benefit is subject to change each October. Weekly benefits may be reduced by certain payments such as pensions, vacation pay or severance pay.
- Additional Payment for Dependents. If eligible for a weekly benefit, a claimant may receive an additional dependency allowance for a dependent child or non-working spouse, to a maximum of five allowances. The allowance is $15 per dependent - or a maximum of $75 for five dependents - but cannot exceed the weekly benefit amount of the wage-earner.
- Partial Benefits. If an individual is working part-time while collecting benefits, he or she receives a partial benefit equal to the weekly benefit amount reduced by two-thirds of gross earnings for the week a benefit is claimed.
Initially, an individual is eligible for unemployment benefits if he or she files a claim, is totally or partially unemployed through no fault of his or her own, and earns a sufficient amount of wages during a base period, which is defined below:
- A regular base period is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters before the date the initial claim is filed.
- If the claimant does not qualify using the regular base period, an alternate base period - which is the last four completed calendar quarters - may be used.
Once unemployment benefits begin, an individual must certify weekly that he or she remains eligible for benefits. The individual must meet each of these conditions in the week for which a benefit is claimed:
- Is not working full-time;
- Is able to work and available for work;
- Is actively seeking full-time work (unless he or she qualifies as disabled and only able to work part-time); and
- Participates in certain reemployment services if identified as a dislocated worker.
Whenever an employee becomes unemployed for any reason, his or her employer must give that employee an Unemployment Notice (Form UC-61) as well as an Application for Unemployment Benefits.
When an individual files a claim for unemployment insurance benefits, the Connecticut Department of Labor sends forms to that individual's last employer and any other employers related to the claim. The employer may need to respond, as summarized below:
- Lack of Work Verification (Form UC-61A), which is sent to the last separating employer, must be completed and returned within seven days of when it was mailed if the claimant was separated for a reason other than lack of work.
- Notice of Potential Liability (Form UC-280), which notifies an employer of a potential charge for benefits, must be completed and returned within 21 days of when it was mailed if the employer wants to protest the charge - for example, because the employee quit or was discharged for other than lack of work. Otherwise, no action is required from the employer.
Once a decision is made on the claim, the Connecticut Unemployment Insurance Program provides additional protections to both employers and claimants through an appeal process. Appeals must be filed within 21 days of the date the decision was mailed.
The Connecticut Department of Labor requires employers to keep employment records going back three years. The employer should record each employee's:
- Name, address, Social Security Number and occupation;
- Total daily and weekly hours worked, showing the beginning and ending time of each work period, computed to the nearest unit of 15 minutes;
- Total hourly, daily or weekly basic wage; overtime; additions to and deductions from wages each pay period; and total wages paid each pay period; and
- Working certificates for 16-18-year-old employees.
All employers must conspicuously post a notice provided by the state.
Connecticut Shared Work Program
Connecticut offers the Shared Work Program, a voluntary program to help employers retain a group of employees who would otherwise have to be laid off.
Under the program, employees' wages and hours for a group of at least four employees may be reduced by between 20 and 40 percent. The affected employees must be full-time, permanent employees and be otherwise eligible for regular Connecticut unemployment insurance. See Connecticut Unemployment Insurance Program > Eligibility.
Affected employees receive a Shared Work benefit, which is calculated by multiplying the regular unemployment benefit amount by the percentage that the employee's hours have been reduced.
Employers may apply to the Connecticut Department of Labor for approval to offer a Shared Work plan.
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