Unemployment Insurance and Corporate Officers

Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions

If I am a corporate officer or principal in an ongoing business, am I eligible for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits? 

To be eligible for UI benefits in New York State, a claimant must be “totally unemployed.” In general, a principal or officer in a business for which services are performed on a regular and continuing basis will be considered not totally unemployed and, therefore, ineligible for unemployment benefits. 

What factors would the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) review to determine whether a corporate officer or other business principal is “totally unemployed” for purposes of unemployment? 

Factors that NYSDOL will consider when reviewing to determine if a claimant is a corporate officer or business principal who is totally unemployed include, but are not limited to: 

  1. Was the business formed, and does the business operate, as a conduit to receive all, or substantially all, of its revenue from a singular line of business (e.g., single client, customer, or contractual arrangement)?   
  2. Were all, or substantially all, of the business assets and revenue obtained through that singular line of business?
  3. What were the circumstances under which revenue from that singular line of business may have been interrupted, suspended, or otherwise terminated? 
  4. Was the entity formed at the direction of, or as a requirement for, performance of services for the singular line of business?   
  5. Does the corporate officer or other business principal, either alone or through the business entity, publicly solicit, market, or otherwise seek to perform services in addition to the singular line of business?  For example, if an individual maintains a website soliciting other forms of business.   

Does the business need to be registered in New York State?

Yes, if the business is liable for UI contributions under New York State law. A business entity becomes liable as of the first day of the calendar quarter in which the employer pays remuneration to an employee totaling $300 or more or when it acquires an existing liable employer. Unemployment benefits are paid through employer contributions. 

Does the business need to pay state and/or federal unemployment taxes? 

Yes, if the business is an employer liable for contributions under New York Law. Employers liable for contributions must comply with state wage reporting requirements and pay unemployment taxes in accordance with law.  For more information, please review the NYS 50, Employer’s Guide to Unemployment, Insurance, Wage Reporting, and Withholding Tax

What if the business entity is not registered under the UI law in NYS? 

If NYSDOL receives a claim for benefits involving a business entity that is not registered, NYSDOL will investigate both the claim and the business’s past and present liability and evaluate whether past, present, or future contributions are due. 

If I am a corporate officer or business principal claiming weekly benefits, what types of work will I need to report?

Each week a claimant certifies for unemployment benefits, they will be asked how many days during that week they worked.

  • "Work" means any service you performed for a business or person. This includes work done in self-employment or on a freelance basis, even if unpaid or paid at a later time.
  • If an individual worked on at all during the week, they must indicate if they earned more than $504 gross before taxes. This does not include any money earned in self-employment.

Note that the number of days worked is determined by the number of hours an individual may have worked. Please view NYSDOL’s website for more information on partial unemployment.

If I am a corporate officer or business principal claiming weekly benefits, do I need to engage in weekly work search activities? 

Yes, unless the claimants meets an exemption or exception under New York Law or NYSDOL’s work search regulation (12 NYCRR 473.4). For additional information on Work Search requirements, please see NYSDOL’s  frequently asked questions.