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BusinessColumnistsCarrie Mason-Draffen

Laid-off part-timer wonders about jobless benefit eligibility

A dental hygienist who worked one day a week asks if she qualifies for unemployment benefits after being let go.

A part-time dental hygienist may or may not

A part-time dental hygienist may or may not qualify for unemployment benefits -- the only way to find out is to apply. Photo Credit: Getty Images / iStock

DEAR CARRIE: I am a dental hygienist. For 1 1⁄2 years I worked one day a week for a dentist. Then the practice was sold, and I worked for the new owner for one day and was let go. Would I qualify for unemployment benefits since I worked one day a week? — Benefits for Me?

DEAR BENEFITS: The best thing to do is to apply right away and hear what comes back.

Here is what the state Labor Department’s website says:

“We can only determine your eligibility to benefits after you file a claim and we have all the required information. We determine your eligibility based upon the New York State Unemployment Insurance Law and precedents of the law as set by court decisions.”

To be eligible you have to have lost a job through no fault of your own, which you did, and you have to meet certain hour and income thresholds. And perhaps another job you held could also count toward those thresholds.

Call the department’s Telephone Claims Center at 888-209-8124.

DEAR CARRIE: My daughter worked for a company soliciting potential customers for its products. After being dropped off, she would go door to door until she was picked up late at night. One day she was caught in a cold rain and developed a cough, chills and a headache. She called in sick so she could go to the doctor. When she returned to work the next day, she was informed that she was not getting paid for the whole week. Subsequently, she was fired, and the company hasn’t paid her for the partial week she worked. She has called the company, but no one has returned her calls or sent her a check. How do we go about solving this unfortunate matter? — No Pay Day

DEAR NO PAY: She has to be paid for the time she worked. That is the law. The company doesn’t have to pay her for the day she missed. But the law requires her to be paid for the time she worked.

It is unfortunate when any worker is taken advantage of, but it’s especially so when the illegal behavior affects young workers. They learn that dishonesty is what some employers resort to and that hard work won’t always be rewarded.

Tell her to call the U.S. Labor Department for more information at 516-338-1890 or 212-264-8185.

DEAR CARRIE: Our employer changed the vacation policy and some of us lost some days. Is this legal? — PTO Bandit

DEAR PTO: Once employees accrue paid time off, by law they are entitled to it. And while companies are free to change their benefits policies — unless a union or other contract comes into play — they cannot legally make changes that would take away paid time off already earned.

Some companies have policies that prohibit employees from carrying over vacation days from one year to the next. That’s a legal use-it-or-lose-it policy. But that at least gives workers a choice about what to do with their earned time — and in advance.

DEAR READERS: Thank you for another great year of questions. They included how to help a discouraged college student relaunch her job search; whether a ban on open-toe shoes in the office is legal; whether a boss can legally listen in on conversations from security camera recordings; whether an excused juror should be paid for the day; whether an office fragrance ban went too far, and whether employers can legally refuse to hire someone with a criminal record.

I look forward to another year of interesting questions. Thanks.

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