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My Hours Have Been Cut Drastically. Do I Qualify For Unemployment?

Unemployment insurance is a program that is run jointly by the states and federal government, so each state has varying rules. However, in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., you probably do qualify for unemployment insurance -- at least for partial benefits -- if your hours have been cut back or your workplace has closed down temporarily.

Quick tips

If you are sick, make sure you use up all of your paid time off. That may be the quickest way to get some funds right away.

If you are caring for yourself or a sick family member, remember that the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) guarantees you up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. Under a new law, you may also apply for FMLA leave if your child's school has closed. You should be clear with your employer that you are taking this leave.


The Maryland Department of Labor recommends that people apply for unemployment insurance if they have been laid off, even temporarily. In Maryland, unemployment insurance is available for most people who lose their jobs through no fault of their own.

If your employer has reduced your hours as the result of emergency conditions, you may qualify for partial benefits. If your company goes out of business, you should also apply for unemployment.


The Virginia Employment Commission says that people whose hours have been cut back due to emergency conditions can apply for unemployment compensation as long as their gross earnings are less than the weekly benefit amount, which is currently $378. If your company has laid you off or closed down entirely, you are also eligible. A one-week waiting period and a required weekly job search have been suspended until further notice.

Washington, D.C.

The DC Department of Employment Services advises that people are eligible for unemployment insurance in a variety of situations:

  • Employee is sick and quarantined
  • Employee was exposed and is quarantined
  • Employee is immunocompromised and advised to self-quarantine
  • In some cases, when an employee is caring for a sick family member
  • Employer shuts down the business due to market conditions
  • Employer reduces available hours due to market conditions
  • Employer shuts down the business due to official quarantine

District of Columbia workers can apply for unemployment insurance online.

If you have questions about unemployment insurance or other employment matters, contact an experienced employment law attorney.

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