Louisiana Unemployment – Learn your Rights Today

  Last Verified: April 2017  

The basic rules and qualifications for unemployment compensation are quite similar across the country, however certain provisions in state laws may differ between states. If you were unemployed in Louisiana, read on for unemployment information pertinent to this state.

Louisiana Unemployment Eligibility

To be qualify for unemployment benefits, the Louisiana Workforce Commission‘s (LWC) examiners will look at your wages over a 12-month period to determine your monetary eligibility. You must have earned enough wages from an employer covered by the state’s unemployment insurance laws. If you meet the monetary eligibility standard, you must also:Seal_of_Louisiana

  • Have lost your job through no fault of your own, or suffered your employer reducing your hours
  • Be able and available to work
  • Be a US citizen or legally authorized to work in the US
  • Register with your local LWC Job Center

 

Eligibility Requirements Explained

Unemployed Through No Fault of Your Own

As in every state, the applicant must be unemployed through no fault of his/her own. Layoffs, a workplace-induced medical condition, constructive discharge, another job opportunity, or domestic circumstances may all be valid reasons to seek unemployment benefits.

Able and Available

The applicant must be physically, mentally, and emotionally able to work. You must be available to accept an offer of suitable employment. “Suitable employment” is work you’re trained to perform (or capable of performing) at a salary similar to one you’ve earned in the past (or commiserate with the current job market).

If you are not returning to your prior workplace, you must be actively seeking for new employment and able to prove the effort.

In case of temporary unemployment due to a workplace issue that can be fixed, you must be available to work upon remediation of said issue.

Authorized to Work

You must be able to show you’re authorized to work in the US. You must be able to prove citizenship, alien registration or in case of a temporary lay off, show an H1-B visa.

Monetary Eligibility and the Base Period

Monetary determination is based on a review of your recent work history, specifically the one-year base period prior to application for unemployment benefits. The base period is the first four of the last five quarters prior to your filing a claim.

unemployment base period

This chart shows the base period.

Basic qualification for unemployment benefits requires that you worked at least two quarters of the base period. The two highest paid quarters will be used to determine compensation amounts.

In order to qualify for unemployment benefits, you must have earned a minimum amount of $1,200.00 during at least two quarters of the base period, AND your total base period wages should equal at least 1.5 times your wages in the quarter where you earned the most money (your “high quarter”).

Calculating Your Benefit Amount

The LWC also uses base period wages to determine how much you’ll receive each week, your weekly benefit amount (WBA). The wages paid to you by your employer during at least two quarters of the base period will determine your WBA as well as the maximum amount of weeks you can receive unemployment benefits.

The formula used to determine your weekly benefit amount is to first take 1/25th of the average of your total covered employment wages in the base period. That number is multiplied by 1.05, and then multiplied again by 1.15.
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The most you may receive per week is set by state law. The maximum WBA is $247 and the minimum is $10.
The maximum number of weeks is set by law as well, at 26 weeks. Your total benefit amount will be your WBA times 26.

Requesting a Reconsideration

The LWC will mail a notice informing you of their calculation of your base period wages and the WBA you will be eligible to receive. This notice does not mean you will be eligible for benefits. The LWC will mail a separate notice to inform you of your eligibility.
If you believe the wage calculations were in error, you may request a reconsideration. You should be able to support your request with documents showing the error (W2 forms, etc). Call the LWC Claim Center at1-866-783-5567 and ask for a monetary reconsideration.

Extended Benefits

During times of high unemployment, the state or federal government will authorize additional weeks of benefit payments. The length varies depending on the unemployment rate. Currently, no extended benefits are available.

How to Apply

Filing for unemployment benefits in Louisiana is a simple matter of having the right resources. You may apply for benefits via phone or online through the Helping Individuals Reach Employment (HiRE) website. You can also find an application form at the Louisiana Department of Labor website. Here, you can also check the status of your initial claim or weekly certifications for an active claim.

For phone applications, cellular phones are not recommended. The phone application relies on a touch-tone system whereby the applicant will be asked a series of questions that require pressing a corresponding touch-tone number.

If you do not have access to a touch-tone phone, find a local Louisiana Career Center.

To file an Unemployment Compensation Claim: 1.866.783.5567

Before you apply for unemployment benefits in the state of Louisiana, make sure that you are able to provide the following information/ documents:

  • Social Security Number
  • Previous employer(s) information (name, address, job-site location, telephone number, etc.)
  • Union hall information (if applicable)
  • Alien registration number (if applicable)
  • If you served in the military, the member-4 copy of your DD214
  • If you worked for a federal employer, the SF-8 and SF-50 copy

Weekly Certification and Maintaining Eligibility

The LWC requires that benefit recipients keep their initial eligibility status throughout the time they receive benefits. Additionally, benefit recipients have to show a good faith effort to find work. To monitor this, the state requires you to file a weekly claim, also known as certifying weekly.

You must file a claim certification weekly, regardless of whether or not your claim has been approved. If you have filed an appeal, it is especially important to continue filing weekly certifications- this will ensure that you are paid for eligible back weeks.

Claim certifications may be filed online (www.laworks.net) or phone (1.866.783.5567). Both resources will allow you to file for, and check the status of, weekly claim certifications.

Weekly claim certifications must be filed Sunday through Friday before 4:00pm in order to ensure your next weekly compensation check. You must file for your very first payment the Sunday immediately after you’ve filed a claim (regardless of whether or not it has been accepted).

When you certify, you’ll receive a number of questions intended to determine your eligibility status.  The questions will focus on several topics including:

  • Whether you are able and available to work suitable employment
  • Whether you have started or quit a new job
  • Whether you are looking for work
  • Whether you have refused an offer of suitable employment
  • Whether you have earned any wages or reportable income during the benefit week

If you have earned wages, you must report it for the week in which you worked, not the week in which you received payment.

You should also report whether you refused work. You may be asked to demonstrate why the work was unsuitable. If you don’t report the incident or the work is deemed suitable, you may lose benefits.

Part-time Work and Receiving Benefits

You may file a claim if your employer reduced your hours significantly. You may also begin part-time work after the LWC approves your claim. You may not earn wages in excess of your WBA. You may not work full-time and still receive benefits (you will no longer be “unemployed”).

Part-time work will affect your WBA. Most states allow you an “earning allowance,” an amount you can earn before the state will reduce your benefits. When you earn more than the allowance, the state may deduct from your WBA dollar-for-dollar over what you earned.

Job Search Requirement

You must make a good faith effort to find work while receiving benefits. In Louisiana, a good faith effort is to make at least three “job contacts” per week. Each contact must be to a different entity.

You must keep a record of your job search efforts so that in case the LWC decides to monitor your efforts, you can prove what you’ve done. Make detailed records, including names, dates and the outcome of the contact you made.

Certain workers, like members of a union hall or those on a temporary lay off with a specific return date, will be exempt from the job search requirement.

Other workers may be required to participate in special programs to help them find work. Workers who were in businesses threatened by the new economy or workers who may have difficulty finding work may be asked. It is not optional; if the LWC asks you to participate, you must or face losing benefits.

Receiving Your Benefits

Louisiana provides the option of receiving your unemployment benefits by one of two options: Direct Deposit and Debit Card. In order to ensure that your receive benefits, you must have an active bank account to receive benefits via direct deposit. You will have to provide your bank routing number and account number when filing your initial claim if you want to use Direct Deposit.

Reasons for a Denial of Benefits

If you don’t meet the monetary eligibility requirements, you will not qualify for benefits. As noted earlier, you may request a reconsideration of your wage calculations.

If you meet the eligibility requirements, the LWC may deny the claim because of problems with your separation from work.

Separation Issues

If your actions or decisions cause your separation from work, the LWC may deny your claim for benefits. If you quit without a good cause connected to the work or you are discharged for misconduct, those circumstances may prevent you from receiving benefits.

Quitting for personal reasons is a decision that may make you ineligible for unemployment. A personal reason may be a decision to return to school full-time. Quitting because of a lack of transportation is not a “good cause” because transportation is your responsibility.

“Misconduct” can be defined as behavior that shows a lack of concern for your employer’s interests. Constant rule violations in the face of frequent warnings by your employer can be misconduct, or even a one-time action that is a severe violation of workplace decorum.

Quit and Still Eligible

In certain circumstances, you may decide to quit for a “good cause.” If it is clear your employer did something or failed to do something to cause you to quit, you may be eligible. For example, if your employer forced you to work in unsafe conditions, that may be a good cause to quit. You’d have to show those conditions did in fact exist as well as showing that you made every effort to work a solution with your employer (in effect, to remain employed).

Fired and Still Eligible

Your employer may dismiss you for a variety of reasons. However, being fired does not make you automatically ineligible. Your actions at work may not rise to the level of “misconduct.” You may have been fired for an inability to perform in your position, which would not be misconduct.

Other Issues

Separation issues are sometimes called “non-monetary” issues. Other non-monetary issues relevant to benefit denials. Failure to conduct a job search, failure to report income or failure to respond to LWC requests can all result in a loss of benefits.

What Happens When the LWC Denies Benefits

If you are found to be ineligible for unemployment compensation, you may seek to file an appeal and must do so within 15 days of the disqualification determination. Appeals may be mailed, faxed, or submitted online.

Learn more about filing an appeal at our page on filing an unemployment benefit appeal in Louisiana.

Other Important Information

Receiving unemployment compensation can be a frustrating experience, especially if you are misinformed or do not have access to the right resources. Before filing, make sure you have all your documents in order and have access to correct information.

In the section below, you can find some helpful resources.

Helpful Resources

Phone Numbers

8:00am-4:00pm. Central Time

Monday through Saturday

To File an Unemployment Compensation Claim:

1.866.783.5567

To Certify Weekly Claims

1.866.783.5567

To Call the Center Inquiry Line

225.342.3018

Debit Card Customer Service Line

1.866.795.5926

 

Addresses

The Office of Unemployment Insurance Administration

Unemployment Claims Unit

P.O. Box 94094, Room 386

Baton Rouge, LA, 70804-9096

 

The Hearing and Appeals Division

LWC Appeals Unit

P.O. Box 94094

Baton Rouge, LA, 70804-9094

 

The Office of Workforce Development

Office of Workforce Development

1001 North 23rd Street

P.O. Box 94094

Baton Rouge, LA, 70804-9094

Fax: 225.342.7960

 

Web Links

The Louisiana Workforce Commission and HiRE

www.laworks.net

 

Resources

  1. “LAWorks Homepage – Louisiana Workforce Commission.” LAWorks Homepage – Louisiana Workforce Commission. <http://www.laworks.net/>.
  1. “Collecting Unemployment Benefits in Louisiana | Nolo.com.” Nolo.com. Web. 10 May 2016. <http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/collecting-unemployment-benefits-louisiana.html>.

11 comments

  • Dee Adsmd

    I broke my arm at home. My employer told me I could not work until I received a drs release. My job requires lifting food trays weighing 20 lbs or more. I can and have been looking for clerical work. I was told I had to file mandatory leave if absence. Now they said I’m denied because I removed myself from the workplace. I was told mandatory leave if absence was a qualifiying separation. So should I qualify because I can do and am looking for clerical work?

    • Who told you a mandatory leave was a qualified separation? A better way to have dealt with this was to ask employer for a position accommodating your disability. If employer refuses, then you can quit and LA should pay benefits. The issue is the leave. If you are on medical leave from your current employer, you have not experienced a separation.

      If LA has denied your application for benefits, appeal providing a drs. excuse that you can do other work, just not the work available at your employers. It is very unlikely LA will approve benefits for this period of leave without an actual quit, but you lose nothing by appealing the decision.

      • Dee Adsmd

        The person who took my application on the phone told me that was how to handle it. I have been looking for another job because I probably cannot go back anytime soon because I’m prob going to have to have surgery. My boss handled it like that because I was told it would qualify. If I quit now would they pay the last 6 weeks? I’m now in a jam because they took 7 1/2 weeks to deny me. But I’ve been looking for other work the whole time.

        • No, they won’t pay the last six weeks, unless you appeal this decision. Initial denials are not cast in stone and often overturned on appeal. You can plead at the hearing you were told by UI worker that mandatory leave qualified for benefits. Otherwise, you would have asked employer for accommodation, which he couldn’t provide and you would have quit to find other work you could do. You may or may not succeed but it’s worth a try.

          Otherwise, you need do as I instructed in the other post, quit, and reapply for benefits. Benefits are paid from date of application, not date of separation.

          • Dee Adsmd

            Thank you! I’m going to appeal now. I was actually filing online and was confused as to what answer on the applied for separation question. So I called and was instructed to do it like I did.

          • Dee Adsmd

            Also the only position I possibly could have taken at work would have paid 1/4 of what I make at my regular position. I can’t be made to accept a job that won’t pay even close to what I need, or can I?

          • A position materially different in wages is not an accommodation. You are not required to accept it.

  • Jackie

    This is my last week of benefits I’m actively looking for work but I live in a border state I lost my job due to medical issues I have congestive heart failure I had to have a pace maker implanted since I have been off work I have had two mild heart attacks no one wants to take the chance of hiring me with my medical history in trying to do rehab for job placement but my health is still declining what resources are there out there i’m only 46.

    • Visit your LA social services, first. You may be eligible for food stamps, cash assistance, medical, depending on LA’s programs.

      Then, see an attorney on your qualifications for SSDI benefits. A good SSDI atty can cut through the red tape and get benefits within a reasonable time period – that means within six months. Without an atty, you could wait years, or forever. These attys are paid out of your SSDI benefits when the claim is granted, the benefits are retroactive to the SSDI disability date. If your health improves you can go back to work. If not, SSDI is a lifeline plus, after two years on SSDI, you qualify for Medicare. Don’t wait too long to apply for SSDI. After five years with no income, you won’t qualify for that, either. So, do this now.

  • Anna Wooten

    I am currently looking for a part-time job in Lafayette, La. Is there still an unemployment office in Lafayette, La. and where is the location? Otherwise, how do I research jobs in Lafayette, La. on the web? Thank you for your consideration. Anna Wooten

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