Part-time employees are eligible for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits in Nevada and were eligible for such benefits even before the coronavirus pandemic. The factor that determines whether a worker is eligible for unemployment insurance benefits is whether they earned enough wages in their base period to qualify. The number of hours the individual worked in the week before being laid off or having their hours reduced is not the determining factor.
A person who worked part time and did not make enough to qualify for unemployment insurance before the pandemic will now likely be eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). PUA was created by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act.
What Is a Base Period?
A base period is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters before the person filed their initial claim for benefits. A person’s weekly benefit amount for UI is based on the amount they earned in their base period. The more money the person made in their highest quarter, the higher their weekly benefit amount.
To be eligible for UI, a person must have base period earnings equal to or exceeding one and one-half times the high quarter earnings or wages in each of at least three of the four quarters in the past base period. Under both conditions, the person must earn at least $400 in the high quarter of the base period.
PUA Is Different From UI
PUA provides payments to people who were not eligible for UI before the pandemic. This group includes self-employed earners, independent contractors or those with a limited work history. The application process for PUA is accomplished through the Nevada Department of Employment, Training, and Rehabilitation (DETR). It is a separate process from that of applying for unemployment insurance (UI).
PUA is currently available until March 14, 2021. A person who has exhausted UI benefits and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), federally funded benefits for a person who exhausted their unemployment insurance claim, may be eligible for PUA.
Earning Money While Claiming Benefits
A person can work part time and collect UI or PUA benefits. The claimant must certify weekly and report how much they earned each week. In order to collect UI or PUA, the person must earn less than their weekly benefit amount per week.
The maximum weekly benefit amount for a Nevadan is $469. DETR’s Employment Security Division (ESD) has waived work search requirements while Nevada’s state of emergency related to the pandemic remains in effect.
Understanding Furlough Days
An individual asked by their employer to take paid or unpaid furlough days will be eligible for UI or PUA if they earn less than their weekly benefit amount. During many months during 2020, a high number of hospitality, restaurant and casino workers in areas like Las Vegas were asked to take paid or unpaid furlough days because a wide range of businesses were restricted from opening. Nevada’s roadmap for recovery provides for gradual increases in operation capacity.
How Recovery Relates to Benefits
The first upcoming date on Nevada’s recovery calendar is March 15, 2021, when almost all business types and activities will be allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity. Gatherings like groups of gamblers at casinos will be limited to no more than 250 individuals or 50 percent of fire code capacity, whichever is less. The second key date is May 1, 2021, when there will be a transition from state to local authority. Statewide directives for face covering mandates and social distancing safety protocols will remain in place to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
Severely Affected Businesses
As of early March 2021, certain businesses, including spas, massage therapy and massage establishments, remain required to operate under strict social distancing requirements. They are currently providing services by appointment only. Adult entertainment establishments, brothels, day clubs and nightclubs are closed. Part-time workers in these businesses are likely to be eligible for UI or PUA.
Eligibility Requirements for UI or PUA
PUA expanded eligibility for payments, but individuals who refuse to return to work are not eligible to receive UI or PUA payments. People who quit their job or were fired for good cause are also not eligible for UI and PUA. There are exceptions to these rules. If an employer chose not to make the workplace safe from the coronavirus, an employee would be justified in quitting or refusing to return to work, and the employee would be eligible for UI or PUA benefits.
Return to Full-Time Work
An individual who is working full time will not be eligible for UI or PUA. A person in this situation should stop certifying weekly. It is not necessary for the person to report to DETR their move to full-time employment.
Understanding Telework Rules
When an employee engages in telework, or works from home, the employer must follow Nevada labor laws. The employer must pay an employee for each hour worked and pay employees for overtime hours worked, unless a specific exemption applies. An employer must maintain a Daily Time Record to reflect how many hours each employee worked. An employee should maintain their own telework log that documents how many hours they worked during the work week.
What Is a Multi-state Worker?
A person who works in more than one state is a multi-state worker. Such individuals should consider filing a Combined Wage Claim. This type of claim combines the base period wages from all states in which the person worked. The person may be able to choose whether they want to file for benefits in one state or they want all wages combined.
Nevada Unemployment Laws
Guidelines for Nevada unemployment rights and Nevada unemployment benefits are outlined in the online publication, Nevada Unemployment Insurance Facts for Claimants, published by DETR. The publication does not cover PEUC and PUA because these are recent federal programs that Congress developed in response to the pandemic. The Nevada Office of the Labor Commissioner (OLC) is providing guidance for employers and employees with regard to COVID-19.
FAQs About COVID-19
The OLC has answered FAQs about rate of pay, travel requirements, sickness, cleaning and quitting employees. For example, an employer can require a person to stay away from work if they have recently traveled; an employer can restrict or cancel travel to highly impacted areas identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); and an employer cannot deduct cleaning costs or other costs related to COVID-19 from an employee’s paycheck.
- Nevada Legislative Counsel Bureau, Research Division: COVID-19 Unemployment Assistance for Nevadans
- Nevada Department of Employment, Training, and Rehabilitation: Nevada Unemployment Insurance Facts for Claimants
- Nevada Department of Employment, Training, and Rehabilitation: Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) Portal for Claimants
- Travel Nevada: COVID-19 Health & Safety Travel Info
- Nevada Office of the Labor Commissioner: Telework Guide
- Nevada Office of the Labor Commissioner: Employer & Employee Information on COVID-19
- Nevada Department of Employment, Training, and Rehabilitation: Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) FAQ’s
Jessica Zimmer is a journalist and attorney based in northern California. She has practiced in a wide variety of fields, including criminal defense, property law, immigration, employment law, and family law.