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The recently enacted unemployment benefits extension bill signed by President Obama on July 22 may make it easier for some workers to take advantage of temporary/contract work.

Before the bill was signed, accepting temporary/contract work could result in lower unemployment benefits for the worker. Why? After a worker has received federal unemployment benefits for 52 weeks, federal law requires the state unemployment agency to review the worker’s wages to determine if enough had been earned to qualify the worker for regular state benefits. Many workers who had accepted short-term assignments during that time found that their unemployment benefits were reduced as the temporary/contract assignment, rather than their previous permanent work, was used as the base to determine their unemployment rate.

That has changed thanks to the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Fix (EUC Fix) that was included in the unemployment benefit extension bill. Now if a reassessment would result in the worker receiving $100 or 25 percent less than the rate they were previously earning based on their permanent employment, the worker would qualify for the higher, federal rate.

An article by The Christian Science Monitor titled “Unemployment Extension 101: Why now is a good time for temp jobs” does a good job of explaining this and answering some of the questions workers may have about accepting temporary/contract work.

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