How Taking a Temporary Job Affects Unemployment Benefits

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Being a temporary worker is a way to earn extra money when you're out of work and short on cash. Temporary roles can also be an opportunity to test out a new career field or job when the applicant may not have enough experience for a full-time position.

Temporary work can be an excellent way for unemployed individuals to make a positive impression upon an employer and consequently, be hired for a more permanent job in the future. However, many unemployed workers are financially strapped and fear the loss of their unemployment benefits if they take on temporary or contract positions.

Here's information on how temporary jobs impact unemployment benefits, how unemployment compensation is affected, and reporting requirements.

Key Takeaways

  • State policies on how earnings are handled when you're receiving unemployment vary, so check with your state unemployment department for guidelines.
  • Earned income should be reported when you file your weekly claim, even if you haven't been paid yet.
  • In general, the amount you earn will be deducted from your unemployment compensation.

How a Temporary Job Impacts Unemployment Benefits

What happens if you accept a temporary job while receiving unemployment benefits? States have different policies on how temporary employment is handled. So, you should contact your state unemployment office for a definitive answer on the impact on your benefits.

Reduction or Elimination of Benefits

In general, your unemployment benefits will typically be reduced or eliminated during the period of your temporary work, depending on the level of pay for your temporary job. Usually, you will still be entitled to the difference between your pay and the value of your unemployment benefits, if you earn less than the total amount of your unemployment benefits.

For example, if you earn $200 and are entitled to $400 in unemployment benefits, you will typically still receive $200 in unemployment compensation. However, if you earn $400 or more in that temporary job, then your benefits would be suspended.


When the temporary job ends, you should be able to either continue your existing unemployment claim, or open a new claim depending on your eligibility. If your benefit period has expired, you will need to reapply for unemployment.

Your benefits will generally be based on the preceding period of temporary work. State employment laws vary, so temporary employees may still qualify for unemployment benefits once the temporary job has been completed. 

How To Report Your Earnings

The income that you earn while on unemployment benefits is reported when you file your weekly claim. The form will ask if you have worked during the week you're filing for, and there will be a section to list how much you earned.

Reporting requirements vary by state. For example, in Georgia, you must report your gross wages for each week you work and claim unemployment benefits, even if you have not been paid for the work yet. This includes part-time or temporary work.

In Maine, you'll be asked if you performed any services for an employer, had earnings from odd jobs or self-employment, or received bonus or severance pay.

If you don't report your earnings, you can be required to repay the unemployment compensation you received, or could even be charged with fraud.

Eligibility for Unemployment Benefits After Temporary Work

Eligibility for unemployment benefits is based on several factors, such as the duration of the employment, the wages earned, and the reason for the unemployment and/or reduced hours.

As long as you are unemployed due to no fault of your own and you are actively seeking work, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits. Job seekers must typically accept any suitable employment, so turning down an opportunity can disqualify them from claiming benefits. 

Unemployment Eligibility for Seasonal Workers

Similar to temporary workers, seasonal workers are employed for short, specific times of the year due to weather-related or tourist-related industries. In some states, seasonal workers may not meet the criteria to be eligible for unemployment benefits.

Unemployment Eligibility for Independent Contractors

Independent contractors typically cannot claim unemployment benefits like temporary and full-time workers can. However, expanded unemployment benefits were available to self-employed workers, gig workers, and independent contractors during the pandemic.

Temporary Work and Total Unemployment Benefits

The amount of compensation you can receive through unemployment benefits is typically calculated based on your wages during a 12-15 month period leading up to your first day of unemployment. This time frame is considered the “base period.” It is advantageous to maintain employment regularly during this period, as it lowers the total amount, which lessens your eligible compensation rate.

Check the details of how to handle it with your state unemployment office.

Quitting a Temporary Job

If you quit a temporary job without a just cause, you will generally not be eligible to resume benefits. If you complete the term of your temporary work, you will often be able to resume unemployment benefits as long as your benefit period hasn't expired.

Accepting Suitable Employment

Some states have suitable work requirements, which require unemployed workers to accept a position that is considered suitable. However, what is considered suitable employment varies from state to state. So, check with your state unemployment office before turning down a job offer, even if it's for a temporary or contract job, rather than a permanent position.

In general, suitable work is determined by compensation, working conditions, health and ability, required skills, and commuting distance. In some states, union workers registered with local hiring halls are considered exempt from these suitable work requirements. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can you collect unemployment while working at a temporary job?

You may still be able to collect unemployment when you're working at a temporary job. It depends on how much you earn and the guidelines for unemployment eligibility in your state. In general, you may be able to collect partial unemployment benefits if you earn under a certain amount of income in the week for which you're claiming benefits.

Do you have to report income from gig jobs when you file for unemployment?

All earned income, whether it's from a temporary job, part-time job, self-employment, freelancing, or gig work, should be reported to unemployment when you file your weekly claim.

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The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Georgia Department of Labor. "Unemployment Fraud Information."

  2. State of Maine Department of Labor. "Instructions for Claimants."

  3. U.S. Department of Labor. "How Do I File for Unemployment Insurance?"

  4. SHRM. "If a Company Hires Temporary or Seasonal Employees, Will These Employees Still Be Eligible for Unemployment When Their Assignment Ends?"

  5. U.S. Department of Labor. "Unemployment Insurance Relief During COVID-19 Outbreak."

  6. NOLO. "Collecting Unemployment: Are You Able, Available, and Actively Seeking Work?"

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