Employment Law -- Employee

Ohio Unemployment Law

Unemployment compensation, also called unemployment insurance (U.I.), is a federal government program administered by the states in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Labor. It’s intended to provide qualified unemployed workers with financial and work search support.

This page summarizes Ohio’s unemployment law and links to more detailed articles that can help you answer specific questions. Because the law is complicated and may be different for your situation, we suggest consulting an employment law expert in a city near you to give you the best advice about your unique circumstances.

Unemployment Eligibility

Each state makes its own rules regarding eligibility and administration, so Ohio may differ from other states regarding factors such as weekly benefit amounts and the duration of benefit payments. You can read more about the general unemployment process and requirements.

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) administers the state’s unemployment insurance program.

An Ohio claimant must meet the following requirement to qualify for U.I.:

  • Be totally or partially unemployed through no fault of their own.
  • Have worked at least 20 qualifying weeks during a base period.
  • Have earned at least $298 in average weekly wages during the base period.
  • Worked enough since any prior unemployment claim to reestablish the claimant’s status as a worker.

Eligibility rules can be confusing. The ODJFS publishes the Worker’s Guide to Unemployment Insurance and an Employee FAQ to help claimants.

Am I Eligible for Unemployment Benefits if I Quit?

To be eligible for unemployment, an Ohio claimant who quit must show they had “just cause” for leaving employment. Some examples of reasons that constitute just cause are:

  • The employer failed to meet the terms of an employment agreement.
  • The employer failed to provide proper safety measures required by law.
  • The employer required the claimant to do work that violated accepted moral or legal standards.

The claimant has the burden to prove they had just cause for quitting.

For example, Kyle, a resident of Cincinnati, may be eligible for unemployment if he can show that he quit because his employer would not provide legally required eye protection.

What if I Get Fired?

A terminated individual is eligible for unemployment benefits only when they are not at fault for being fired. The flip side of this is that if you are fired for something that is considered your fault, you are not eligible for benefits.

The “just cause” standard is used again here. Ohio requires the employer to prove that it fired the claimant for just cause. Just cause for firing an employee include when the employee can be shown to have

  • violated company rules;
  • neglected their job duties;
  • disregarded the employer’s interest; or
  • Had poor work performance.

So, if Harry’s employer in Hamilton can show that Harry was stealing, then Harry would be ineligible for unemployment benefits.

What if I Am Laid Off?

A laid-off claimant is considered unemployed through no fault of their own. They will thus be eligible for unemployment. However, they must meet all other state eligibility requirements.

So, suppose Mary from Akron‘s employer laid her off because the employer did not have enough work for her. In that case, she will be eligible for unemployment as long as she meets the other requirements for unemployment benefit eligibility.

Maintaining Eligibility for Unemployment Benefits

Ohio unemployment insurance recipients must re-certify their eligibility by filing a weekly claim. In these filings, the claimant must answer questions to establish that they are available to work, able to work, and actively seeking employment.

Actively seeking employment means the claimant must do weekly work search activities. A work search activity is an act that could lead to employment, such as applying for a job, attending a career fair, or attending an interview.

Claimants must continue to file a weekly claim as long as they are totally or partially unemployed until they exhaust their benefits.

What Is the Weekly Benefit Amount?

Benefits are typically available to eligible Ohio claimants for 26 weeks in the benefit year. The state may extend the benefit period in certain circumstances.

The maximum weekly benefit amount ranges from $530 to $715, depending on the claimant’s number of dependents. The State of Ohio pays out benefit payments by loading funds onto a debit card or by direct deposit.

What Information Must the Employer Provide?

While states vary in what information they need for an unemployment insurance claim, the following information from the employer is typically required:

  • Confirmation that the employer was required to pay unemployment insurance contributions on the employee’s wages.
  • The reason for the employee’s separation.
  • The employee’s last day of work.
  • Whether the separation is temporary.
  • The employee’s gross wages for each week during a specified period.

Are Unemployment Benefits Taxable?

Ohio does not tax unemployment benefits, but the amount counts towards one’s gross income for federal income tax. The state provides the worker with Form 1099-G reporting the unemployment benefits paid and federal income tax withheld.

So Oscar, from Dayton, must report his unemployment benefits on his federal, state, and local taxes.

When Can Requirements for Unemployment Benefits Be Waived?

States or the federal government can waive the requirements for unemployment benefits under exceptional circumstances, such as when a company is forced to shut down for some time. For example, New YorkFlorida, and several other states waived their work search requirement during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additionally, IndianaLouisianaMichigan, and New York, among others, waive the work search requirement if the individual is temporarily laid off or seeking work through a union hiring hall.

What If Ohio Denies My Application for Benefits?

The sequence for benefits appeals is as follows:

  1. Ohio claimants can appeal a benefits determination within 21 days from the determination’s mailing date, and can file the appeal either online or by fax or mail. Both the claimant and the employer have the opportunity to submit additional information.
  2. The ODJFS has 21 days from receipt of the appeal to either issue a redetermination or refer the case to the Unemployment Compensation Review Commission (UCRC).
  3. The claimant may appeal a redetermination to the UCRC within 21 days of the redetermination date. The UCRC will hold an in-person or telephone hearing with a hearing officer.
  4. The claimant can request the UCRC to review the hearing officer’s decision within 21 days of the mailing date of the hearing officer’s decision.
  5. A claimant may appeal the UCRC’s decision to the common pleas court in the Ohio country where the claimant lives or last worked. The claimant must appeal to the common pleas court within 30 days of the mailing date of the UCRC decision.

If you need help filing an appeal, it is wise to discuss your options with an employment lawyer.

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