Total and Partial Unemployment TPU 370.05

Public Service/General

A. General

This general category deals with claimants who are in public service. To determine the employment status of these individuals it is first necessary to establish whether they performed services or received wages within the meaning of Section 1252 or Section 1279.

Section 1252 of the Unemployment Insurance Code states:

"An individual is ‘unemployed’ in any week during which he performs no services and with respect to which no wages are payable to him . . . "

The Section then goes on to say:

". . . the term ‘wages’ includes any and all compensation for personal services whether performed as an employee or as an independent contractor."

Since Section 1252 states that wages include compensation for all personal service, it is clear that it was not intended that remuneration received in the employ of a local or Federal Government or any public or charitable organization be omitted. Therefore, the employment status of any claimant who is working in any public employment full time, or receiving wages that equal or exceed his weekly benefit amount, will be determined on the same basis as the claimant in private employment.

A claimant who is hired to perform a specific service for a government agency and is paid on a job basis is unemployed during the time he is not actually "working." For instance, a building inspector for a municipality who is required to make his inspection at no particular time and therefore can consolidate them all into one particular week of the month, is unemployed the remaining weeks of the month. During the remaining weeks he is performing no service, and he is receiving no wages.

If the same claimant were required to make his inspections within a specified time limit of the completion of the construction, and the claimant were on call at all times throughout the month, the claimant would then be considered fully employed because he would be performing services of a standby nature throughout the month.

Section 1279 of the Unemployment Insurance Code provides in part:

"(a) Each individual eligible under this chapter who is unemployed in any week shall be paid with respect to that week an unemployment compensation benefit in an amount equal to his or her weekly benefit amount less the smaller of the following:

(1) The amount of wages in excess of twenty-five dollars ($25) payable to him or her for services rendered during that week.

(2) The amount of wages in excess of 25 percent of the amount of wages payable to him or her for services rendered during that week

(c) For the purpose of this section only ‘wages’ includes any and all compensation for personal services whether performed as an employee or as an independent contractor or as a juror or as a witness, but does not include any payments, regardless of their designation, made by a city of this state to an elected official thereof as an incident to such public office. "

Thus a claimant who receives compensation which is not XE for less than full-time services as an employee or independent contractor in any public service work, is part-totally employed, unless such service was as an elected city official. Since Section 1279 specifically excludes earnings as an elected city official, a claimant’s weekly benefit amount would not be reduced by this type of payment. In the absence of other earnings he/she would be considered totally unemployed.

Public service is often performed on a volunteer basis and thus is uncompensated. This is particularly true in charitable work such as United Fund, Red Cross, etc., or voluntary political campaign work. A claimant so occupied is not employed since he is free to leave such service at any time. If he is committed to performing a specific number of hours work per week, however, there may be a question of availability.