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Gov. Cuomo proposes plan to allow part-time workers to receive unemployment benefits

Under the current law, New Yorkers seeking weekly benefits are reduced 25% for each day worked, regardless of the hours they actually worked.

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a proposal Monday that would boost partial Unemployment Insurance benefits to New York State residents who return to work part-time as part of his 2021 State of the State address.

The proposed plan would allow unemployed New Yorkers who accept part-time work are not penalized by basing their partial unemployment benefits on the hours they actually work, but the number of days they work in a given week. 

Under the current law, New Yorkers seeking weekly benefits are reduced 25% for each day worked, regardless of the hours they actually worked. 

Under the proposed legislation, the Department of Labor would implement emergency measures that base benefits on the numbers of hours worked over the course of the week. 

That means, if approved, New Yorkers collecting unemployment benefits under the new system could work up to seven days per week and still receive some unemployment benefits as long as they work fewer than 30 hours per week and earn no more than $504 in gross pay. 

The legislation will be submitted with the Executive Budget, which was presented by the governor Tuesday.  

"The COVID pandemic has created dual crises, putting Americans' physical health and financial wellbeing at risk — and in New York we are addressing both sides of this public health emergency. I am immediately directing the Department of Labor to change outdated rules so as we build back from the pandemic, unemployed New Yorkers aren't penalized for taking part time jobs," Governor Cuomo said in a release. "Encouraging part-time work will help New Yorkers get back to work quickly, give small businesses the flexibility needed to navigate these difficult times, and ensure our neighbors have money to put food on the table." 

New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said, "I applaud Governor Cuomo for moving this proposal forward. No New Yorker should be discouraged from taking part-time work for fear of losing critical benefits when they are trying to do what is necessary to provide for their families and transition back into the workforce full-time. This new plan is an important pathway for our workforce, our businesses, and our communities."

The new method of calculating partial benefits is outlined below: 

•    New Yorkers who work between zero and four hours in a week and earn no more than $504 will receive their full unemployment benefit; 

•    New Yorkers who work between four and ten hours in a week and earn no more than $504 will receive 75 percent of their unemployment benefit; 

•    New Yorkers who work between ten and 20 hours in a week and earn no more than $504 will receive half of their unemployment benefit; 

•    New Yorkers who work between 20 and 30 hours in a week and earn no more than $504 will receive 25 percent of their unemployment benefit; 

•    New Yorkers who work over 30 hours in a week, regardless of earnings, will not receive any of their unemployment benefit. 

Unemployment numbers skyrocketed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  New York State has distributed over $62 billion in benefits to four million New Yorkers. 

The changes will go into effect for work done on or after Monday, January 18, 2021, which unemployed New Yorkers certify for starting on Sunday, January 24, 2021.