Understanding Unemployment Law in Arkansas

Have you experienced recent unemployment?   Has your company downsized, merged, or been sold?  Has your job simply vanished?   Have you been let go due to financial strains on your employer?    Has your employer laid you off due to the Covid Pandemic?

You’re not alone.  And in spite of what you may be feeling right now, there’s no shame in your circumstances. When life throws us a curveball, all we can do is survive the best we can while making the best of our personal situation. The most common way to do that is to apply for unemployment assistance in Arkansas. Filing an unemployment claim in Arkansas may allow you to temporarily receive financial support based on your past paychecks and could be just what you needed to get you through this rough time.

Understanding how to file an unemployment claim in Arkansas and what to do if that claim is denied isn’t always easy. We’ve created this helpful guide to walk you through the process and answer some of the most common questions about unemployment claims in Arkansas.

Who Controls Unemployment in Arkansas?

Unemployment benefits in Arkansas are overseen by the Department of Workforce Services (DWS). The DWS is a division of the Department of Commerce. This agency is responsible for collecting, investigating, approving or denying, and paying out all unemployment claims in the state of Arkansas.  The easiest way to file an initial application for unemployment is to go to your local office.   https://www.dws.arkansas.gov/contact/.  You can also file it online at https://www.dws.arkansas.gov/unemployment/ezarc/.  It is important to start the process as soon as possible.

How Much Can I Get from Filing an Unemployment Claim in Arkansas?

Unemployment payments are based on multiple factors including:

  • State-mandated minimums
  • State-mandated maximums
  • Your past income
  • Your employment history

The current minimum amount of unemployment insurance that people in Arkansas can be granted is just $81 a week. The maximum amount you can expect from unemployment in Arkansas is $451 per week.

You can estimate your potential benefit by dividing your current quarterly earnings by twenty-six (using the quarter in which your income was the highest).

So, for example, a person making $441.00 per week (the median weekly income for a single income household in Arkansas—based on 2017 figures) could expect to be granted a maximum of just $203.00 per week.

How Long Do Unemployment Payments in Arkansas Last?

Unemployment was not designed to completely replace your income. It was designed to help individuals who have lost their job through no fault of their own support themselves and their families during a transitional time (between jobs). Therefore, Arkansas’ unemployment benefits expire after 25 weeks.  However, this expiration is sometimes extended due to changes in the law.

How Do You Qualify for Unemployment in Arkansas?

The most significant qualifier for being granted unemployment insurance in Arkansas is having lost your job through no fault of your own.  In most cases, that means you have to have been fired.  You also must be able and available to work if and when you find a new job.  You must also be actively looking for new gainful employment throughout the entire process.

If all of these three qualifiers apply to you, you’ll likely face no problems getting your Arkansas unemployment claim granted.


Why Can Your Unemployment Claim Be Denied?

If you failed to earn a mandated minimum amount in the legally allotted timeframe, you simply will not qualify for unemployment. That makes sense to most of us. But did you know that’s not the only thing that could keep you from collecting the financial support you may be entitled to?

If you terminated your employment of your own volition without a qualifying reason, your claim to unemployment will likely be denied.

Additionally, your employer may contest your claim to unemployment. Generally, such an individual would be limited to stating factual information when questioned by representatives of the Department of Workforce Services. However, if that individual has a personal reason to be vindictive against you, they may be tempted to skew facts or influence the judgment of the Department of Workforce Services.  We handle unemployment appeals often for individuals at the Appeal Tribunal stage and the facts underlying a denial are as varied as our clients.

Can You Get Unemployment in Arkansas if You Quit?

Generally, the answer to that question is “no.” However, Arkansas law does make exceptions for circumstances that are deemed extreme. If you quit your job and can prove that you had “good cause” to do so, your claim may be approved. Such good cause often requires you to demonstrate that you had no other feasible option than to quit for reasons such as your health, safety, or mental wellness.


Getting Help If Your Arkansas Unemployment Claim is Denied

If you’ve filed a claim for unemployment benefits in Arkansas and that claim has been denied, you may not yet be out of options. Finding an experienced employment lawyer who has handled cases with the Department of Workforce Services, understanding what information and facts can change the status of a claim, and how to present the correct evidence in a compelling fashion may result in a reversal of your denial.

If you need help getting the unemployment benefits you need, contact the Pfeifer Law Firm today at 501-374-4440, or you can chat with us online.

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