TASB Risk Management Fund

Substitute Teachers and Unemployment Compensation

June 07, 2011 Paul Taylor

unemployment compensation

male teacher carrying stack of booksSome media articles have suggested that teachers should reject substitute work because of the potential negative impact it could have on unemployment benefits. Though accepting work as a substitute will not disqualify an employee from benefits, the money earned as a substitute may affect the amount of weekly benefits. Overall, however, the value of substitute work likely outweighs any downside. Here are four things to know about substitutes and unemployment compensation.

1. Added income

Working as a substitute allows the teacher to increase his or her overall weekly income. A person’s unemployment benefits will be reduced by the amount of any weekly earnings, whether from a temporary or part-time job. The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) will generally reduce the amount of a teacher’s weekly benefits because of the weekly earnings as a substitute. However, benefits are not reduced dollar-for-dollar. Thus, the teacher’s earnings as a substitute, when combined with the reduced weekly unemployment benefits, can be more than unemployment benefits alone.

2. Extended eligibility

Working as a substitute can extend the teacher’s eligibility for unemployment benefits. Unemployment benefits are usually described in terms of weeks. For example, the initial benefit eligibility is for “26 weeks”. In fact, benefits are allotted in dollar amounts. So, the less benefits a teacher receives each week, the longer the teacher will be able to rely on benefits being available. For example, a teacher who collects 100 percent of his or her weekly benefit amount may run out of benefits after 26 weeks. But if the same teacher works as a substitute two days a week, they may be able to extend their eligibility by about 20 percent to approximately 30 weeks. Those extra few weeks can make a big difference.

3. Protected eligibility

Accepting substitute work protects the teacher’s benefit eligibility. A person who is collecting unemployment benefits must be “able and available for work.” If the person rejects employment that is a reasonable approximation of his or her previous employment, the person will be disqualified for benefits. Thus, a teacher who rejects full-time substitute work might forfeit needed unemployment compensation. Furthermore, any person receiving unemployment benefits has a duty to make a certain number of job applications per week. Declining to seek work (as a sub or any other work) in order to continue to collect unemployment benefits could result in a complete disqualification of future unemployment benefits under the TWC’s rules.

4. Maintained contact with district

Perhaps most importantly, by working as a substitute, the teacher maintains contact with the school district and the school community. This keeps the teacher’s skills up-to-date and increases his or her visibility when positions become open in the district.

In any situation, it is important to remember that TWC is the final decision-maker on unemployment claims and TWC decides each claim based on the particular facts. If you have any questions, please contact James Ezell at 800.482.7276, ext. 2857.

Tagged: benefits, substitute