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School Employee Recess

Federal and state laws require that individuals who work(ed) for an educational institution(s) during the base year of their claim have their unemployment insurance applications reviewed during recess periods. A file may be set up for formal review by an adjudicator who will decide if the educational institution wages can be used to claim unemployment insurance benefits during the recess periods*.

A base year is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters preceding the benefit year. For example, if a person applied for benefits in March 2020, a regular base year claim would include the 4th quarter of 2018 through the 3rd quarter of 2019 (October 1, 2018 through September 30, 2019). The base year changes with each calendar quarter and is determined by the quarter in which the initial claim is filed.

If an individual does not qualify for an unemployment insurance using the standard base year, we will use the four most recent completed calendar quarters.

What is a school recess period?

School recess periods are times when students usually are on break periods. Examples include Spring break or summer vacation. If a school employee applies for unemployment insurance during a school recess period, their claim must be reviewed to see if their 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?

Maybe. It depends on which recess period is being reviewed and when you worked for the school. The review is based on when students usually are on break periods, not when staff works.

I was doing temporary work with a school, but 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. The Oregon Employment Department 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 this fall. Will I qualify for unemployment insurance benefits and still have 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 similar capacity with the same rate of pay (or within 90%). 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 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.

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

Each school recess claim must be reviewed. That process can take up to 14 weeks.

I worked for Head Start and my claim is 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 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 my other 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 non-educational wages, you will need to have either 500 hours of work or wages that equal 1.5x high base quarter.

Do I qualify for the Benefits While You Wait program while my unemployment claim is being reviewed?

It depends. If the only reason you’re not working is due to the recess period, you may not be eligible for the Benefits While You Wait program. If your claim is COVID-related, you may be eligible for Benefits While You Wait. Oregon Employment Department staff is contacting people who qualify for this program. You do not need to contact us.

*Decisions are issued with the current available information. If an individual’s situation changes after a decision has been issued, we will re-open the investigation and potentially end or reverse a decision.