The Vermont Statutes Online
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Subchapter 001 : General Benefits(Cite as: 21 V.S.A. § 1344)
§ 1344. Disqualifications
(a) An individual shall be disqualified for benefits:
(1) For not more than 15 weeks nor less than six weeks immediately following the filing of a claim for benefits, in addition to any applicable waiting period, as may be determined by the Commissioner according to the circumstances in each case, if the Commissioner finds that:
(A) The individual has been discharged by the individual’s last employing unit for misconduct connected with the individual’s work.
(B) The individual was separated from the individual’s last employing unit because the individual became unable to perform all or an essential part of the individual’s normal duties in the employment without good cause attributable to the employing unit because of the consequences that flow from the individual’s conviction for a felony or misdemeanor or from an action or order of a judge or court in any criminal or civil matter. In the event a conviction or the action or order of any judge or court in any criminal or civil matter is rescinded or expunged, the individual may be eligible for benefits from the time the individual would have otherwise been eligible for benefits.
(2) For any week benefits are claimed, except as provided in subdivision (3) of this subsection, until the individual has presented evidence to the satisfaction of the Commissioner that the individual has performed services in employment for a bona fide employer and has had earnings in excess of six times the individual’s weekly benefit amount if the Commissioner finds that the individual is unemployed because:
(A) The individual left the employ of the individual’s last employing unit voluntarily without good cause attributable to the employing unit. An individual shall not suffer more than one disqualification by reason of such separation. However, an individual shall not be disqualified for benefits if the individual left such employment to accompany a spouse who:
(i) is on active duty with the U.S. Armed Forces and is required to relocate due to permanent change of station orders, activation orders, or unit deployment orders, and when such relocation would make it impractical or impossible, as determined by the Commissioner, for the individual to continue working for such employing unit; or
(ii) holds a commission in the U.S. Foreign Service and is assigned overseas, and when such relocation would make it impractical or impossible, as determined by the Commissioner, for the individual to continue working for such employing unit.
(B) The individual has been discharged by the individual’s last employing unit for gross misconduct connected with the individual’s work. As used in this section, “gross misconduct” means conduct directly related to the employee’s work performance that demonstrates a flagrant, wanton, and intentional disregard of the employer’s business interest and that has direct and significant impact upon the employer’s business interest, including theft, fraud, intoxication, intentional serious damage to property, intentional infliction of personal injury, any conduct that constitutes a felony, or repeated incidents after written warning of either unprovoked insubordination or public use of profanity. An individual shall not suffer more than one disqualification by reason of such separation.
(C) The individual has failed, without good cause, either to apply for available, suitable work when directed by the employment office or the Commissioner, or to accept suitable work when offered, or has during the course of a job interview for available employment made verbal statements that are either untrue, show an unreasonable lack of interest, or are calculated to preclude an offer of work or a directive being made, or to return to the individual’s customary self-employment, if any, when directed by the Commissioner. An individual shall not suffer more than one disqualification for these causes.
(D) In determining whether or not any work or employment is suitable for an individual for purposes of this subdivision, the Commissioner shall consider the degree of risk involved to the individual’s health, safety, and morals; the individual’s physical fitness and prior training; the individual’s experience and prior earnings; the individual’s length of unemployment and prospects for securing local work in the individual’s customary occupation; and the distance of the available work from the individual’s residence.
(E) Notwithstanding any other provisions of this chapter, no work shall be deemed suitable and benefits shall not be denied under this chapter to any otherwise eligible individual for refusing to accept new work under any of the following conditions:
(i) if the position offered is vacant due directly to a strike, lockout, or other dispute;
(ii) if the wages, hours, or other conditions of the work offered are substantially less favorable to the individual than those prevailing for similar work in the locality;
(iii) if, as a condition of being employed, the individual would be required to join a union or to resign from or refrain from joining any bona fide labor organization.
(F)(i) Notwithstanding any other provisions of this chapter:
(I) An otherwise eligible individual shall not be denied benefits for any week if the individual is in training approved under section 236(a)(1) of the Trade Act of 1974, 19 U.S.C. § 2296(a), or the individual is in approved training by reason of leaving work to enter training, provided the work left is not suitable employment as defined in section 236(e) of the Trade Act of 1974, 19 U.S.C. § 2296(e).
(II) An otherwise eligible individual shall not be denied benefits for any week because of the application to any week in approved training of provisions in this law, or any federal unemployment insurance law administered by the Department, relating to availability for work, active search for work, or refusal to accept work.
(ii) Benefits paid to an eligible claimant regularly attending a training course approved under the Trade Act of 1974, 19 U.S.C. § 2296(e), following a refusal of work or leaving of unsuitable work shall not be charged against the experience-rating record of any employer but shall be charged to the Fund.
(3) For not more than six weeks nor less than one week immediately following the filing of a claim for benefits (in addition to any applicable waiting period), as may be determined by the Commissioner according to the circumstances in each case, if the Commissioner finds that the individual has left the employ of the individual’s last employing unit without good cause attributable to the employing unit because of a health condition, as certified by a health care provider, as defined in 18 V.S.A. § 9432(9), that precludes the discharge of duties inherent in such employment.
(4) For any week with respect to which the Commissioner finds that the individual’s total or partial unemployment is due to a stoppage of work that exists because of a labor dispute at the factory, establishment, or other premises at which the individual is or was last employed, provided that this subdivision shall not apply if:
(A) the individual is not participating in or financing or directly interested in the labor dispute that caused the stoppage of work; or
(B) the stoppage of work was due solely to a lockout, effected by the employer in order to gain some concession from employees. A lockout does not include a temporary suspension of work in response to:
(i) actual or imminent damage to property of the employer; or
(ii) a purposeful effort by employees to reduce productivity.
(5) For any week with respect to which the individual is receiving or has received remuneration in the form of any of the following:
(A) Wages in lieu of notice.
(B) Vacation pay or holiday pay, provided that:
(i) Vacation pay due at time of separation in accordance with a work agreement (whether a formal contract or established custom) shall be allocated to the period immediately following separation, or if due subsequent to separation, it shall be allocated to the week in which due or the next following week, and that number of weeks immediately following as required to equal the total of the weeks of pay due. Any mutual agreement between the employer and employee(s) (whether or not payment is made), allocating such remuneration to any period during which work is performed, within four weeks prior to the date of separation, shall not be valid for the purpose of determining unemployment compensation entitlement or waiting period credit purposes and such payment shall be allocated to the period immediately following separation.
(ii) There shall be no disqualification amount for any holiday.
(C) Severance pay, back pay awards, and back pay settlements. These payments, awards, and settlements shall be allocated to the week(s) and in the manner as specified in the order or agreement, or, in the absence of such specificity, to the week(s) and in the manner that, in the judgment of the Commissioner, would be reasonable.
(D) Compensation for temporary partial disability or temporary total disability under the workers’ compensation law of any state or under a similar law of the United States.
(E)(i) A pension under a plan maintained or contributed to by a base period or chargeable employer, which shall include a governmental or other pension, retirement or retired pay, annuity, or any other similar periodic payment. The weekly benefit amount payable to an individual for the week in which the individual receives remuneration from a pension, retirement or retired pay, annuity, or similar payment shall be reduced, but not below zero:
(I) by the entire prorated weekly amount of the pension if no contributions to the plan were made by the individual;
(II) by no part of the pension if the entire contributions to the plan were provided by the individual, or by the individual and an employer, or any other person or organization; or
(III) by no part of the pension if the services performed by the individual during the base period, or remuneration received for the services, for the employer did not affect the individual’s eligibility for, or increase the amount of, the pension, retirement or retired pay, annuity, or similar payment.
(ii) If the remuneration specified in this subdivision, after applying the provisions of this subdivision, is less than the benefits that would otherwise be due under this chapter, the individual shall be entitled to receive for the week, if otherwise eligible, benefits reduced by the amount of the remuneration, after applying the provisions of this subdivision, and after rounding the remuneration to the next higher dollar, and the provisions of subdivision 1301(9) and sections 1338a and 1339 of this title do not apply.
(6) For any week with respect to which or a part of which the individual has received or is seeking to receive unemployment benefits under an unemployment compensation law of another state or of the United States, provided that if the appropriate agency of the other state or of the United States finally determines that the individual is not entitled to unemployment benefits, this disqualification shall not apply.
(b) In periods of “high level unemployment” an individual shall be disqualified for benefits for not more than 12 nor less than six consecutive weeks immediately following the filing of a claim for benefits, as may be determined by the Commissioner according to the circumstances, when it is found that the individual would otherwise be disqualified under the provisions of subdivision (a)(2)(A) of this section, and except that the disqualification provided by this subdivision shall terminate if an individual has performed service in any employment as provided by subdivision (a)(2) of this section.
(c) Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, any individual who has been disqualified for regular or extended benefits pursuant to the provisions of subdivision (a)(1) or (a)(3) of this section shall not be eligible to receive extended benefits with respect to any week of unemployment in the individual’s eligibility period unless the individual has been employed after the beginning date of such disqualification and has earned in excess of four times the individual’s weekly benefit amount. (Amended 1959, No. 236; 1959, No. 329 (Adj. Sess.), § 22, eff. March 1, 1961; 1961, No. 210, § 15, eff. July 11, 1961; 1971, No. 77, § 8, eff. Dec. 31, 1971; 1973, No. 155 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. March 15, 1974; 1973, No. 231 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 1977, No. 64, §§ 18, 19, 25(b); 1979, No. 120 (Adj. Sess.), § 9, eff. March 31, 1980; 1981, No. 86, §§ 3, 6, 13; 1981, No. 165 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 1981, No. 194 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. Oct. 1, 1982; 1983, No. 16, § 11, eff. April 4, 1983; 1987, No. 179 (Adj. Sess.); 1989, No. 62; 1993, No. 177 (Adj. Sess.), §§ 4-6; 1999, No. 126 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 2009, No. 124 (Adj. Sess.), § 7, eff. July 1, 2011; 2013, No. 173 (Adj. Sess.), § 10; 2017, No. 74, § 52; 2019, No. 91 (Adj. Sess.), § 31, eff. March 30, 2020; 2019, No. 91 (Adj. Sess.), § 33, eff. Oct. 1, 2021; 2021, No. 20, § 222; 2021, No. 105 (Adj. Sess.), § 410, eff. July 1, 2022; 2023, No. 6, § 252, eff. July 1, 2023.)