Tuesday, November 17, 2009


A recent consultation revealed the following: Claimant ran a business on weekends as well as being full time employed on weekdays. The weekend business had income of over $10,000 and was operated as a corporation. Claimant's weekday job was terminated and Claimant applied for benefits but was denied on the grounds that Claimant was self-employed. This is from the Department of Labor website:

"The unemployment Insurance Law provides in Section 591 that benefits "shall be paid only to a claimant who is totally unemployed." Section 522 of the law defines total unemployment as "the total lack of employment on any day" and specifies that such employment includes "that not defined" in the Unemployment Insurance Law. This last mentioned specification has been interpreted by the Courts to mean that a self-employed claimant is not totally unemployed within the meaning of Section 522 of the law. This principle has been established by the Court in Matter of Emery (A-750-1207) and reiterated in Matter of Bunzl (A-750-1404). Following these Court decisions, it has been applied in rendering benefit determinations and in Appeal Board and Referee decisions. Thus, for the purposes of determining whether a claimant is totally unemployed, but for this purpose only, self-employment has the same significance as employment (as an employee) under a contract of hire. Neither these Court decisions nor the law define what is meant by "self- employment." Does it include any gainful work which an individual performs while not in an employer-employee relationship, however casual and sporadic such activity might be, including one-time undertakings, or however minute the effort and time which he devotes to it? Or does it require that the characteristics be present which commonly identify the existence of a going business, such as a physical establishment, continuous operations, sustained solicitation of customers, etc.? Is it necessary that a person, to be "self-employed" in this sense performs work in connection with the business or does it suffice that he is an owner or co-owner?"

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