Glossary of Unemployment Terms for Employers

Unemployment Insurance Glossary of Terms
Term Definition

Able and Available

You must be ready, willing and able to work. You must be prepared to start employment immediately and be physically and mentally capable of working to receive benefits. You must actively seek any work for which you are reasonably fitted by your previous training and experience and which you are capable of doing.

Account Balance

An employer's account balance is determined on 12/31 of every year by taking the account balance as of 12/31 of the prior year and adding all the timely normal contributions paid minus any unemployment benefits charged to an employer's account.

Account percentage

An employer's account percentage is calculated by dividing the balance of the employer's account on the computation date by the employer's average payroll for the past five payroll years.  If the employer has been liable for less than 5 years, then we divide by the number of payroll years in which the employer was liable.

Alternate condition  

(See also Valid Original Claim)

A valid original claim for benefits in which the alternate base period is used.  See also: UI Law.


The formal request by a claimant or employer to have a determination or decision reviewed by the next higher level authority (see also Hearing).

Base period

The primary base period is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters prior to the calendar quarter in which your claim is effective. 

Base period - alternate condition

The alternate base period is the last four completed calendar quarters prior to the calendar quarter in which your claim is effective.


The amount of an Unemployment Insurance payment to a claimant.

Benefit Overpayment

Benefits received by a claimant to which he or she was not entitled.

Benefit rate

The amount of money to which a claimant may be entitled for each week of unemployment.  Prior to 2014, a claimant's weekly benefit rate was equal to 1/26 of the remuneration paid during the highest calendar quarter of the base period.  Exception: If your high quarter wages were $3,575 or less, your weekly benefit rate was 1/25 of your high quarter wages.

Beginning January 1, 2014, if the claimant has earnings in all 4 base period (or alternate base period) quarters, the benefit rate will continue to be calculated in the same way.  However, if the claimant has earnings in only 2 or 3 base period (or alternate base period) quarters, the benefit rate will be calculated as follows:

  • If high quarter > $4,000, benefit rate is 1/26 of the average of two highest quarters

  • If high quarter > $3,575 and <= $4,000, benefit rate is 1/26 of high quarter

  • If high quarter <= $3,575, benefit rate is 1/25 of high quarter

For claims effective January 3, 2022 or later, the minimum benefit rate is $116. For claims effective January 1, 2023 or later, the minimum benefit rate is $124.

Benefit year

The one-year period beginning with the Monday following the week in which the valid original claim for benefits is filed. The claimant can receive up to 26 full weeks of benefits during this period.

Benefit year ending date (BYE)

The date an Unemployment Insurance claim ends and you can no longer collect benefits on that claim.  The date of the BYE for your claim can be found on the website under View Payment History.  If you remain unemployed after the BYE date and believe that you had sufficient employment in the past year to qualify for a new claim, you must immediately file a new claim, either on our website or by calling the Telephone Claims Center.

Business fully or partly owned by a relative

You are considered "employed by a relative" when your relative is a principal officer or full or part-owner of the business.

Calendar Quarter

The 3 month period beginning with January, April, July, and October. 
1st quarter:  January 1 through March 31
2nd quarter:  April 1 through June 30
3rd quarter:  July 1 through September 30
4th quarter:  October 1 through December 31  


Any person seeking Unemployment Insurance benefits.

Combined Wage Claim

A claim filed when a claimant has earned wage credits in two or more states, and combining these wages would either establish a benefit rate for the claimant or increase the benefit rate.  To file a combined wage claim in New York, the individual must have employment and wages in the base period in New York.  The claimant does not have to reside in New York.

Commuter Claim

A claim filed when the claimant traveled daily from their residence outside New York State to their employment in New York State. The claimant must look for and be available for work in the New York labor market.  These claims are usually filed from the "border" states of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Connecticut. 

Company or Union Pension

If you are otherwise eligible for Unemployment Insurance benefits, but you are receiving a pension, your weekly benefit rate may be reduced.  This reduction will be made if you receive a pension from an employer for whom you worked in the 18 months immediately prior to filing your claim and that work made you eligible for or increased the amount of your pension and your employer contributed more than 50% toward your pension.  If you received a lump sum payment of an employer-financed pension in lieu of periodic (monthly) payments, the monthly equivalent of this lump sum payment will be determined based on actuarial tables and considered as periodic payments.

For claims filed after January 1, 2014, claimants who receive a retirement pension financed in whole or part by a base-period employer will have their weekly benefits reduced if their base-period employment with that employer resulted in eligibility for the pension or an increase in the amount of the pension.

If the employer contributed to the pension at all, the claimant's benefit rate is reduced by the pro-rated weekly amount of the pension.

If the claimant was the sole contributor to the pension, no reduction applies.

Computation Date

December 31. This is the date each year that employers' account balances are computed and UI rates are calculated.

Covered employment

Unless specifically excluded by law, all employment performed for a liable employer is covered, whether it is on a part-time, full-time, temporary or casual basis.

Days of work

You are considered to have worked on any day you perform any services - even an hour or less - in employment for someone else, in self-employment, or on a freelance basis, regardless of whether you receive payment for the services.

Disability According to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, a person with a disability has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such impairment or is regarded as having such impairment.  Major life activities are functions such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working and receiving educational or vocational training.
Disability Benefits If you receive disability payments from New York State or any other state because of a non-work related injury, but are still physically able to perform some work, you may be eligible for Unemployment Insurance benefits.  However, you will be required to provide a medical statement, signed by your physician, saying that you are able to work.
Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) Section 407 of the Disaster Relief Act of 1974 created a program to pay out unemployment assistance to people whose unemployment is a direct result of a major disaster as declared by the President of the United States.
Educational Institution An organization established for the purpose of operating a school, schools or alternative educational experience, that offers a program of instruction in academic, technical or vocational subjects, and is certified by, under contract to, or subject to the regulations of the Commissioner of Education. You are not considered employed by an educational institution when you work for a private employer and your work location is in a school's facility.
Effective day The days in a week a claimant may receive benefits. The first three days of a week that the claimant is eligible are qualifying days.
Employer Includes: New York State and other governmental entities; any person, partnership, firm, association, or domestic or foreign corporation, public or private; the legal representatives of a deceased person; or the receiver, trustee, or successor of a person, partnership form, association, or domestic or foreign corporation, public or private.  For more information, refer to the UI Law.
Employer's account An account in the fund reflecting an employer's experience with respect to contribution payments and experience rating charges.  For more information, refer to the UI Law.
Employment Any service, unless specifically excluded, performed for compensation under a contract of hire, whether the contract is express or implied, written or oral, and without regard to whether the service is performed on a part-time, full time or casual basis.  See also Covered and Non-covered employment and the UI Law.
Engaged in any activity You are ineligible for Unemployment Insurance on any day in which you perform any services in employment or self-employment, regardless of whether you are paid for these services.
Extended benefits Additional weeks of benefits paid during periods of high unemployment as provided by the U.S. Congress.
Federal Taxes Any Unemployment Insurance benefits you receive are subject to Federal, New York State and local taxes, if you are required to file a tax return. You may elect to have 10% of your Unemployment Insurance benefit payment withheld for Federal tax purposes.  You can also choose to have 2.5% withheld for State income tax.
Fired You lost your job because you violated a company policy, rule or procedure, such as absenteeism or insubordination; because of a disagreement or dispute with a boss or co-worker; or for any other reason.
Fund The Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund
General Account A subset of the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund that allows for offset of negative balance transfers from employers' accounts, benefits not chargeable to any employer's account, and other items.  It is funded by the interest earned on the Fund and the proceeds of subsidiary contributions, as well as normal contributions paid more than 60 days after the due date.  For more information, refer to the UI Law.
Hearing A formal proceeding held by an Administrative Law Judge to consider an appeal of a determination concerning Unemployment Insurance benefits or an employer's liability.
Interstate Claim A claim filed from a state other than the state paying the Unemployment Insurance benefits.  For example, a claimant residing in California is filing a claim against New York State, where he/she earned wage credits.
Joint accounts Any two or more qualified employers engaged in the same or a related trade, occupation, profession or enterprise, or that have a common financial interest may apply to the Commissioner to merge several individual accounts into a joint account.  For rating purposes, a joint account is maintained as if it were a single employer's account.  Each employer is still required to report separately.
Lack of work You lost your job due to lack of work when: the temporary or seasonal employment ended; your job was eliminated; there was an involuntary reduction in force; the company downsized or shut down; the company restructured or reorganized; there was a lack of company operating funds/orders; or for any other business operating reason which resulted in your involuntary unemployment. 
Let Go/Not Qualified You were discharged or fired because you were unable to meet employer performance or production standards, or you were unable to meet employer's qualifications for the job.
Maximum benefit rate

The maximum benefit rate is $504  It will increase annually, beginning the first Monday of October in each year, as shown below:

October 7, 2019, 36% of the average weekly wage which is $504
2020, 38% of the average weekly wage
2021, 40% of the average weekly wage
2022, 42% of the average weekly wage
2023, 44% of the average weekly wage
2024, 46% of the average weekly wage
2025, 48% of the average weekly wage
2026 and each year thereafter, 50% of the average weekly wage, but in no event will the maximum benefit amount be reduced from the previous year.

Negative account balance When the benefits charged to an employer's account exceed the contributions credited to the employer's account.
Non-profit organization Any corporation, unincorporated association, community chest, fund, or foundation organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, literary or educational purposes, no part of the net earnings of which inures to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual.  These organizations have a 501(c)(3) exemption from the Internal Revenue Service.
Officer of a Corporation An officer of a corporation is an individual who is listed as an officer on the minutes of the corporation.  However, an individual may have held a position as an "officer" with an employer, but may not be a "corporate officer."  An example is a vice president of a bank.
Overpayment Benefits a claimant received to which he/she was not entitled because of a disqualification, earnings, or for other reasons.
Partial benefits If a claimant works less than four days in a week and earns $504 or less, the claimant may receive partial benefits. Receiving partial benefits extends the length of time a claimant may collect benefits, until he/she receives his/her maximum benefit amount or until the benefit year ends.
Payroll All wages paid by an employer to employees.
Payroll year The period beginning on October 1st of a year and ending on September 30th of the next year.
Pre-Hearing Conference A meeting between an employer who has filed a request for a hearing (in writing), the employer's representatives, and an auditor from Unemployment Insurance Employer Services.  The conference is used to try to resolve issues without the need for a formal hearing.  If the matter is not resolved through the conference, the case is sent for scheduling of a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge.  Informal conferences are not held when the issue relates to experience rating or claimant cases.
Qualified Employer To be qualified for a normal rate based on experience, an employer or the employer and any predecessor: (1) must have been in the system during the five calendar quarters ending on the computation date of any year; (2) must have filed all contribution returns, or had an amount of contributions due or an amount of wages paid determined by the Department of Labor in the three payroll years preceding the computation date; and (3) must have paid some remuneration to employees in the payroll year ending September 30 preceding the computation date.  The payroll year is the four consecutive calendar quarters ending on September 30.
Quit You voluntarily left your job.
Reason for Separation The reason you are no longer working.
Remuneration Every form of compensation for employment paid by an employer to an employee, whether paid directly or indirectly, including salaries, commissions, bonuses, and the reasonable money value of board, rent, housing, lodging, or similar advantage received.
Shared Work Shared Work is a voluntary program that provides employers with an alternative to layoffs when business temporarily declines.  Instead of totally laying off some employees to reduce costs, hours and wages are reduced for some or all employees.  Partial Unemployment Insurance benefits are then paid to the affected employees to supplement lost wages.  For additional information, click here.
Size of Fund Index The lesser of the following two percentages:

The percentage obtained by dividing the moneys in the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund as of the computation date by the total of all payrolls for the payroll year preceding such date; or
The percentage obtained by dividing such moneys by the average of the totals of all payrolls for the five consecutive payroll years preceding the computation date.

Statutory week Seven consecutive days beginning with Monday.
Strike/Lockout You are unemployed because of a work stoppage in the last 14 days which was conducted in violation of an existing collective bargaining agreement in the establishment where you were employed.  It is not necessary that you are actually participating in the strike, but only that you are not working because of the strike in the facility where you worked.
Total unemployment Complete lack of employment on any day.
Trade Readjustment Act (TRA) Provides benefits to persons affected by foreign imports.
Transfer of experience When an employer transfers all or part of its organization, trade or business to another employer, and the transferee takes over and continues the employer's account, including its balance and all other aspects of experience for rating purposes.
UI Wage Base

Employers are required to pay contributions on remuneration paid to each employee in a calendar year, up to the Unemployment Insurance (UI) wage base.  On January 1, 2014 several provisions of the recent UI reform legislation go into effect.  These provisions affect the UI wage base.  The UI wage base will adjust January 1st of each year as follows:

Year 2013 and prior     $8,500
Year 2014                    $10,300
Year 2015                    $10,500
Year 2016                    $10,700
Year 2017                    $10,900
Year 2018                    $11,100
Year 2019                    $11,400
Year 2020                    $11,600
Year 2021                    $11,800
Year 2022                    $12,000
Year 2023                    $12,300
Year 2024                    $12,500
Year 2025                    $12,800
Year 2026                    $13,000 

After 2026, the wage base is permanently adjusted on January 1 of each year to 16% of the state average annual wage, rounded up to the nearest $100.  The state average annual wage is established no later than May 31 of each year.  The average annual wage cannot be reduced from the prior year level.

Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE) Unemployment benefit program for former federal employees.
Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Service Persons (UCX) Unemployment benefit program for former military personnel.
Vacation Pay The employer's payment of your unused vacation accruals is not vacation pay.  The term "vacation pay" means the payment for time designated for vacation purposes in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement or the employment contract, or by the employer and the claimant, his union or his representative.
Valid original claim A claim for Unemployment Insurance benefits that meets certain conditions specified in the Unemployment Insurance Law.
Voluntary contribution The Unemployment Insurance Law provides an opportunity for employers to make a voluntary contribution prior to March 31 to affect that year's Unemployment Insurance rate and possibly future year rates.
Wages The compensation and remuneration paid to an employee each year up to the Unemployment Insurance wage base.
Waiting period Before any benefits can be paid, an unpaid waiting period equivalent to one full week of Unemployment Insurance benefits must be served.  You are subject to the same eligibility requirements for this period as you are when you claim a benefit payment.  If you work at all during the first week of your claim, or for other reasons do not serve a full waiting week, the unpaid time extends into the next week(s).
Week Seven consecutive days beginning with Monday.
Week ending date The Sunday date that is the last day of the week for which benefits are claimed.
Work In New York State Includes: services performed within New York State; work as a seaman on a vessel registered in New York State; work for the federal government, if you were a civilian employee whose last duty station was outside the US and you are currently living in New York; military service, if you are filing a claim from within the boundaries of New York State; and work for a New York State employer outside of the country.
Workers' Compensation If you receive Workers' Compensation benefits because of a work-related injury but are still physically able to perform some work, you may still be eligible for Unemployment Insurance benefits. You should be prepared to send to the Department of Labor copies of your electronic file from Workers' Compensation and a medical statement signed by your physician, attesting that you are able to return to work.