Unemployment insurance eligibility in Hawaii is determined by specific regulations. Both initial eligibility for unemployment and continued eligibility (after you have been accepted into the HI program) are governed by these rules. The regulations involve how you were separated from work, your ability to work, your availability to work, your continued looking for work, and your willingness to accept a job for which you are reasonably qualified.
To answer your questions about who qualifies for unemployment and what are the requirements to get unemployment, take a look at these sections:
The primary qualifications for unemployment in Hawaii relate to how you became separated from your job. You must be totally separated from a regular job or still be attached to an employer but working part-time and earning less than your weekly benefit amount. Eligibility for EDD in Hawaii may be granted if you were laid off or had your hours reduced.
Generally, if you were fired from your job, you are most likely ineligible to collect unemployment. However, there are significant exceptions to this rule. If you can convincingly argue that your being fired from your job was completely unfounded, that you did nothing to intentionally instigate the firing, and that you had no intent of being separated from your job under those circumstances, then you could be eligible to collect unemployment.
For instance, you could receive eligibility for unemployment in HI if you were fired because: you were asked to break the law and did not, you did not respond to inappropriate sexual advances, you served on jury duty, you were asked to violate professional regulations, you were activated for military duty, you were a whistle-blower, you filed a worker’s compensation claim, you filed a safety complaint with OSHA, or you exercised your legal rights in the workplace.
A similar situation regarding unemployment insurance eligibility exists if you quit your job. If you can persuade your unemployment office representative of the fact that quitting was not your intention but the result of adverse or unsafe working conditions, abuse/harassment or some other similar reason, you may have just cause to collect unemployment. One such example of this is quitting because of a hostile work environment.
Regarding how to qualify for unemployment in Hawaii, you must be able, available, willing, and actively looking for work in HI, and you must report for required interviews. Your Hawaii unemployment insurance eligibility may be affected by changes in your availability for work. You must notify your local unemployment office of any changes in your availability, which may include illness, going to school, taking a trip, losing child care, or being self-employed. Additionally, you must be ready and willing to accept work that you are reasonably qualified for (in either training or experience) without any unjustified restrictions.
To maintain eligibility for EDD in HI, you are required to make three or more job search contacts every week. So keep a record of all your work search contacts on the Form UC-253 “Record of Contacts Made for Work,” and submit it when requested. Also, if you are a member of referring unions, you must make sure that you are on the union’s out-of-work list, and you must comply with union reporting requirements as well.
Finally, if you become ill/disabled after filing an application for unemployment insurance benefits, a medical waiver may apply if your condition is certified by a doctor and you do not refuse suitable work because of your illness/disability. In this case, continue to file claim certifications.
Another requirement that determines who qualifies for unemployment in Hawaii concerns the wages earned and the time worked during a set period of time known as the “base period.” The amount of money you were paid during your base period, which is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters, determines your weekly benefit amount (WBA). Under certain conditions, an alternate base period, consisting of the most recent four completed quarters, may be employed.
You will receive an “Unemployment Determination of Insured Status” form with the following information:
To obtain unemployment insurance eligibility in HI, you need to have earned wages in an insured workplace during at least two of the calendar quarters in your base period; your wages paid for insured work must be at least 26 times your WBA; and your wages must be at least five times your WBA for the work you did during the prior claim, if filing a new claim immediately after a prior claim expires.
Your unemployment insurance claim is effective the week that you file, not when you become unemployed. You must serve a one-week “waiting period,” which is the first eligible week of your claim, and you need to file a claim certification for the waiting period, even though no benefits will be paid to you. Furthermore, you are required to file claim certifications on a weekly/bi-weekly basis to request benefits while unemployed.
To maintain eligibility for unemployment, former employees must register for work with the State Workforce Development Division as well. You must post an online resume on HireNet Hawaii within seven calendar days after submitting your application. However, registration for work with the WDD may be waived for some union members or if you are partially unemployed.
In any case, you must participate in re-employment services (worker profiling) if you are asked to take part in orientation, assessment, job placement, or other similar services with the WDD or another service provider.