Although unemployment insurance exists to help workers through periods of little or no work, furloughed workers -- employees forced to take unpaid leave -- often receive nothing. In addition, small amounts of work can disqualify a person from benefits completely. Thus, a furloughed worker should not count on unemployment benefits to sustain them during a work shortage.
Under certain circumstances, workers can receive unemployment during a furlough in New York state, according to Nancy Dunphy, the deputy commissioner for employment security for the state’s Department of Labor, in a 2009 New York Times article. Qualifying for benefits depends on the number of days a week the employee works. Any employee that works at least four days a week cannot receive unemployment benefits.
As of the time of publication, the state of New York offers a maximum of $405 in benefits per week for up to 59 weeks. The state calculates benefits based on the number of days worked per week and pay. Each day of work reduces benefits by 25 percent. For instance, working two days a week slashes benefits by 50 percent.
Any worker that experiences a reduced work load should apply for benefits from the state, because it may qualify him for benefits in the future. For instance, if a company furloughs a worker for an entire week, he does not receive benefits because New York has a 7-day waiting period, but the employee may receive benefits if the company furloughs him again during the year, according to Dunphy.
In general, working full time pays more than unemployment benefits. Furloughed workers should look for work to compensate for lost hours. Companies in New York often participate in the shared work program, which allows companies to lend employees to other businesses. Employees should ask their companies to combine work days. New York counts work on any day -- even an hour -- as part of the four-day maximum threshold.