Like other laid off or furloughed workers, public and private school teachers in Texas are eligible to receive state unemployment benefits to assist them while they look for a new position. The Texas Workforce Commission allows teachers to qualify for unemployment benefits, as their employers typically contribute funding to the benefits pool. Teachers must meet the same eligibility requirements as any other unemployed worker in the state, and receive benefits on par with other similar workers.
Basic Eligibility Requirements
As with all other workers who file for unemployment insurance from the Texas Workforce Commission, teachers must meet basic eligibility tests to receive benefits. Teachers must be unemployed through no fault of their own, because of layoffs or other administrative cutbacks – those who choose not to sign a new contract or are dismissed for cause don’t qualify for unemployment benefits. A teacher must also have earned enough in the prior five calendar quarters to qualify for benefits, receiving at least 37 times the amount of their benefit amount, which is roughly half of their weekly earnings. Finally, teachers must continue to look for work and be available to take a position should it become available.
Reasonable Commitments and Summer Break
The Texas Workforce Commission doesn’t provide benefits to teachers over the summer when they have reasonable assurance that they’ll have a position when the school year resumes. A reasonable commitment may be anything from a signed contract to an oral commitment to return to their position, and may be returning to the previous academic year’s position or to an entirely new job at a different school. Unlike other workers, teachers aren’t considered subject to recall for summer breaks when they don’t work, but have a commitment to return to their job.
To help manage budgets, some schools or districts offer veteran teachers incentives to quit or retire early. Teachers who accept these incentives to terminate their employment may not be considered unemployed due to no fault of their own, and may be disqualified from receiving benefits. If the teacher would have been laid off regardless of whether or not she accepted the package, she doesn’t forgo eligibility for benefits. Eligibility in these cases, as in all other cases, is determined on an individual basis by the Texas Workforce Commission.
If a teacher qualifies for unemployment benefits, the commission uses his prior earnings to determine his weekly unemployment benefit. The commission uses a base period, the first four of the five previous completed calendar quarters, to set benefits. A teacher’s benefit is calculated by dividing the quarter with the highest earnings by 25, as 27 percent of the base period’s total wages. Texas law limits the weekly benefit amount to $408
- Texas Workforce Commission: Unemployment Insurance Benefits Handbook
- Texas Workforce Commission: Unemployment Insurance Law - Eligibility Laws
- Goose Creek Education Fed: What Teachers and Other Employees Should Know About Unemployment Benefits in Texas
- Nolo.com; Collecting Unemployment Insurance Benefits in Texas; Lisa Guerin
Wilhelm Schnotz has worked as a freelance writer since 1998, covering arts and entertainment, culture and financial stories for a variety of consumer publications. His work has appeared in dozens of print titles, including "TV Guide" and "The Dallas Observer." Schnotz holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Colorado State University.