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School Workers

If you are a school employee and have filed for unemployment insurance benefits, your claim will need to be reviewed as a result of federal and state laws related to educational institutions and unemployment insurance. These laws require the Employment Department to consider “recess periods” when reviewing certain school employees’ claims, and the required review process can add several weeks to the time it takes for these claims to be processed.

The gray edifice of John Jacob Astor Elementary School in Astoria.

School Employee Recess Periods

Federal and state laws require that some individuals who worked for an educational institution during the “base year” of their claim have their unemployment insurance applications reviewed during school recess periods.

School recess periods are times when students are on a break from school. Examples include spring break and summer vacation. If you are a school employee, and you apply for unemployment insurance during a school recess period, an adjudicator may review your claim to see if your “base year” educational institution wages can be used to claim unemployment insurance benefits during the recess period.

Your base year is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters preceding your “benefit year,” and your benefit year is the 52-week period starting when you file your initial claim.

For example, if you applied for benefits in October 2022, your regular base year claim would include the third quarter (the three months of July through September) of 2021 through the second quarter of 2022. Therefore, this base year would be from July 1, 2021, through June 30, 2022. The base year changes with each calendar quarter and is determined by the quarter when you file your initial claim.

If you do not qualify for unemployment insurance using the standard base year, we will use the four most recently completed calendar quarters, which is known as an alternate base year.

During the adjudication review, we base our decisions on the information we have currently available. If your situation changes after a decision has been issued, we will reopen the investigation and potentially end or reverse our decision.

Frequently Asked Questions for School Workers

What is a school recess period?

School recess periods are times when students are on a break from school. Examples include spring break or summer vacation. If you are a school employee and you apply for unemployment insurance during a school recess period, your claim must be reviewed to see if your base year educational institution wages can be used during the school recess breaks.

I worked all year for a school. Does my claim need to be reviewed during school recess periods?

It depends on which recess period is being reviewed and when you worked for the school. Our review is based on when students are usually on a break, not when staff work.

I was doing temporary work with a school, but I worked full time somewhere else when I got laid off. Do school recess laws apply to me?

Yes, if you have educational wages in the base year of your claim. We must review claims from school employees who worked full time, part time or in a temporary position for a school.

I worked for a school in the past, but I was laid off from a different job. Does my unemployment claim need to be reviewed?

If you worked for a school before being hired at your new job, and the school wages are in your base year, your application may need to be reviewed during each school recess period. This applies even though you no longer work for the school.

I am an educator, but I have not been given notice that I will return to work. Will I qualify for unemployment insurance benefits and need to have my claim reviewed during school recesses?

You may be eligible to receive benefits during the recess period if you have not been given "reasonable assurance" that you will return after the break. Generally, reasonable assurance means you have an offer of work in the same or a similar capacity with the same rate of pay (or within 90% of the rate). However, we must review your claim to make that determination.

I worked for a private company that provides bus service to schools. Do school recess laws apply to me?

No. Businesses providing services to schools are not considered educational employers, and these claims are not reviewed during school recess breaks.

I work for a school, but I am not a teacher. Do school recess laws apply to me?

It depends. The Oregon Employment Department does not review school recess periods for employees providing janitorial services or who work in the operation and maintenance of school facilities.

I am a substitute teacher, but I worked very few hours at a school. Does my unemployment claim need to be reviewed?

Yes, if you worked those hours in the base year of your claim. Substitute teachers are reviewed under the same laws as other school employees to whom the laws apply.

How long does it take to have a claim reviewed under school recess laws?

Each school recess claim must be reviewed, and the process can take approximately three to five weeks.

I worked for Head Start, and my claim is being held up by school recess review laws. A friend of mine works for Head Start and has received their money. What is happening?

If you work for an educational institution that provides Head Start services, you must have your claim reviewed during school recess periods. If you work for a nonprofit organization or a county that provides Head Start services, your claim will not need to be reviewed during school recess periods.

If I can’t use my school wages during a recess period, can I still receive unemployment benefits from another job?

If you have wages in the base year that are not from an educational institution, we can use those wages to see if you qualify for a reduced weekly benefit amount. To qualify for a claim with those non-educational wages, you will need to have either 500 hours of work or wages that equal 1.5 times the highest base quarter.

Again, when we review school recess period claims, we base our decisions on the information we have currently available. If your situation changes after our adjudicators have issued a decision, we will reopen the review and potentially end or reverse the decision.