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Can undocumented workers get unemployment benefits?

On Behalf of | Nov 17, 2021 | Wage & Hour Laws

The rules for undocumented workers and employment taxes and benefits are sometimes confusing. It is no surprise many workers are unaware of their rights to certain benefits.

While you may qualify for things such as vacation pay and overtime pay, WTTW explains that you do not qualify for unemployment benefits.

The exception

Unemployment benefits are an exception when it comes to benefits. You will qualify for almost every other type of benefit your employer offers. Unemployment benefits require permanent residency to qualify.

What this means

If your employer lays you off or you lose your job due to no fault of your own, you cannot collect payments to help you financially as other workers can. If your employer has some type of other benefits to offer, you may get those, but you cannot claim benefits through the unemployment system.

The reason

Unemployment, unlike other programs, is a state-based program. Because the money comes from taxpayers and funding is from government sources, you do not qualify if you are undocumented. Unemployment will require proof of residency and usually a Social Security number. Do note that you do have to pay taxes, even though you cannot collect these benefits.

Important notes

One thing to keep in mind is that your employer still must treat you fairly. It cannot do anything illegal in letting you go from your jobs, such as discrimination due to your race or ethnicity. You still maintain the general protections against retaliation as well.

While you cannot get unemployment benefits if you are an undocumented worker, you can plan ahead for a potential job loss now that you are aware of the situation.