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Unemployment Guidance for Government Employees

Most state and local government employees who involuntarily lose their jobs are potentially eligible to collect Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits. However, per NYS Labor Law Section 565, government employees who held “a major nontenured policymaking or advisory position” are not eligible to collect UI benefits. The key word here is “major” and there is more information regarding this distinction below.

Since job titles and related duties and responsibilities may differ greatly between governmental entities, the Department of Labor (DOL) advises anyone with doubts about eligibility to collect UI benefits to file a claim for benefits. DOL will review the job title and duties of the government employee to determine eligibility.

To apply for UI Benefits:

General guidance for “major nontenured policy making and advisory positions”:

Government employees who held “a major nontenured policymaking or advisory position” are not eligible to collect UI benefits. While the Department of Labor handles every claim on a case-by-case basis to determine if the government employee is entitled to UI benefits, here is some general guidance on this issue:

  • The term 'major' refers to high-level governmental positions with responsibilities affecting the entire governmental entity. These positions are generally in the highest levels of government. Major policymakers have the authority and autonomy to create policy as contrasted with creating administrative policies or procedures that carry out the policies developed by others. A person in a “major” advisory position advises “major” policymakers on formulating policy and has direct access to the policymaker.
  • Generally, these policymaking and advisory positions are appointed and report to the top executive of the governmental entity. Division or department heads normally report directly to “major” policymakers, and policymakers have the authority to contractually obligate the governmental entity. "Major" policymaking and advisory positions generally participate in executive staff meetings, develop legislative agenda, prepare budgets and play a significant role in formulating policy.
  • 'Nontenured' means that the position has no statutory protection against dismissal without just cause. The individual serves at the discretion of the appointing authority.

The DOL will review the job title and duties of the government employee to determine whether the government employee is excluded from receiving UI. Again, since job titles and related duties and responsibilities may differ greatly between governmental entities, DOL advises anyone with doubts about eligibility to collect benefits to file a claim for benefits with the Department of Labor.

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