Can an employer just stop scheduling you? If your employer no longer schedules you to work, the end result is the same as if you had been fired. Without getting any hours, you are effectively out of a job. This situation can be complex, especially if you seek unemployment benefits. Read on below to learn about your rights when you can’t get hours at work.
Are you an At-Will Employee?
Most states recognized some type of at-will employment. If you are an hourly employee not under an employment contract, you are not entitled to hours. Many employers choose to offer zero-hour schedules instead of formally terminating an employee. Practically speaking, the outcome of either situation is the same.
If your employer refuses to schedule you, it is no different than being fired. The term for this status is “constructively discharged.” While the approach to being terminated is frustrating, there is little you can do about it as an at-will employee.
There are only limited situations where you could have recourse for having your hours reduced. When your reduction of hours effectively terminates your employment, it could violate the terms of an employment agreement.
If you are not under contract, your options are even more limited. These options are based entirely on the laws of your state. Some states give employees zero recourse when they are terminated. Others allow for a wrongful termination lawsuit if the firing goes against public policy. There are also states that recognize implied contracts for employment. When certain conditions are met, workers in these states are protected from unreasonable termination. The reduction to zero hours could qualify as termination in those states.
See Also: Does Getting Fired Go On Your Record?
Can I Get Unemployment Benefits?
Some employers reduce hours to zero instead of firing employees in the hopes that it prevents unemployment claims. Regardless of what an employer says, this will not prevent you from receiving benefits. The only requirement for unemployment benefits is having zero earnings while not being offered any hours.
Even though you have not technically been fired, having your hours cut to zero is enough to qualify. In most states, you can file for unemployment after only a week without hours. Unemployment benefits do not depend on your having a job. Your eligibility is based on whether you are working.
The Answers Vary State-by-State
These issues can vary across state lines. The specific rules regarding the termination of your employment and your eligibility for unemployment depend on the laws of your state. As always, speak to an attorney to learn about your rights.