Hawaii Unemployment

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Unemployment Benefits Eligibility

General Benefits Eligibility Criteria

In order to qualify for unemployment insurance benefits in Hawaii, you must meet specific eligibility qualifications. To do so, you must meet all of the following work and eligibility criteria. These criteria ensure that the amount of tax money paid by employers on your wages is sufficient to qualify you for unemployment insurance benefit compensation..

Use the following information to gauge your Hawaii unemployment insurance benefits eligibility  to see if you qualify.

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Work Eligibility Criteria

To determine eligibility, you must meet the appropriate work requirements. These identify exactly why you lost your job and ensure that you are continuing to look for work. To meet them, you must be:

  • Totally unemployed or working less than your normal hours and earning less than your Weekly Benefit Amount (WBA)
  • Registered for work at HireNet Hawaii within seven days of applying for your benefits
  • Able to submit a Verification of Registration for Work request, if you are a member of a labor union with a hiring hall
  • Physically able and available to work
  • Willing to serve a waiting period of one week after you file your claim
  • Filing weekly claims to verify your employment status
  • Actively searching for work and make three job contacts a week
  • Not a teacher or educational employee filing during a school break, an illegal alien, or a professional athlete filing between seasons
  • Accepting suitable work if it is offered to you
  • Uninvolved in a labor dispute
  • Able to prove you were not fired for misconduct or quit your job with good cause

To meet these criteria, your wages will then be assessed by the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations to ensure that earned wages were sufficient enough to meet eligibility requirements.

Wages Eligibility Criteria

The wages eligibility criteria in Hawaii requires : you must earn  26 times your WBA in your Base Period. The standard Base Period in Hawaii is the first four of the last five quarters before your initial claim date. The most recent quarter is considered a “lag” quarter.

If you do not qualify for benefits based on this Base Period, an Alternative Base Period will be used. This period is the last four quarters of completed wages, which includes the “lag” quarter. Failure to meet this criteria disqualifies you for benefits.

EXAMPLE: If your WBA is set at $500, you need to have made at least $13,000 in the Standard Base Period or Alternative Base Period. Calculating these periods requires understanding quarters, which are three-month periods of the year, including: January-March, April-June, July-September, and October-December.

NOTE: The wages criteria set into place ensures that your Maximum Weekly Benefit Amount (MBA) is 26 times your WBA during your benefit year.

Unemployment Availability Limits

Once you meet all of the eligibility criteria, your availability may be limited or denied if you:

  • Quit your job for no good cause
  • Were fired or laid off for misconduct at work
  • Fail to accept suitable work
  • Are physically unable to perform work (may qualify for some form of temporary disability)
  • Are unavailable to perform work
  • Lost your job due to a labor dispute
  • Currently collect unemployment benefit from another state
  • Committed fraud to obtain benefits, which results in a two-year disqualification and repayment of all benefits with a 15 percent penalty added: may also be prosecuted for a potential fine of $10,000 and up to five years in prison
  • Work a part-time job (may decrease your weekly benefits)

When working a part-time job while receiving unemployment benefits, you must report your earnings when filing your weekly claim.  

Unemployment Extensions

The last date that Hawaii received unemployment extensions from the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program was January 1, 2014. This program provided extra weeks of benefits for those who still needed them after their initial claim had ended. As of 2016, there are no extended benefits available in Hawaii.