Department of Labor
The unemployment compensation program is designed to assist workers unemployed through no fault of their own to meet non-deferrable living expenses for themselves and their families, thereby allowing them to search for work commensurate with their skills, training, and experience. Benefit payments also help to sustain the economy of the Virgin Islands by maintaining purchasing power within the population.
You can help to reduce your contribution rate, or to keep it from rising unduly, by providing when requested or on your own initiative, timely, pertinent, and accurate information about individuals claiming unemployment benefits.
Note: The 2006 Maximum Weekly Benefit Amount is $416.00
Requirements for Entitlement
To qualify for benefits, an individual must have (1) worked in covered work during his base period, (2) earned a minimum amount of wages in at least two calendar quarters, (3) become unemployed through no fault of his own, (4) filed a valid claim for benefits and registered for suitable work with the Agency, and (5) be found eligible, and not be disqualified. Each of those conditions is described briefly below.
A worker must have performed service for remuneration for an employing unit that is covered under the Virgin Islands Unemployment Insurance Act, and the service performed must be covered, that is, not a type of service that is exempt under the law. If exempt, the service may, nevertheless, be covered if the employer so elected.
A worker must have earned remuneration that is covered and treated as wages under the law, in an amount not less than $858.00 in the single calendar quarter of his base period in which he earned the highest amount of wages. In addition, his total base period wages must be at least one and a half time his high quarter wages.
The individual claiming benefits must either be not working at all or working for a number of hours that are less than the customary hours for his occupation. If a claimant does work part-time, he must report all of his earnings to the Agency WHEN EARNED, NOT WHEN PAID.
The unemployed individual must not have quit his job voluntarily without good cause connected with his work, and he must not have been discharged or suspended for misconduct connected with his most recent work. In addition, the individual must not have failed, without good cause, to apply for or accept available suitable work to which he has been referred.
An individual claiming benefits must be physically able to work. The program is not intended to compensate individuals who are sick, or disabled and, therefore, unable to look for or accept suitable work.
A claimant must be actively seeking suitable work by doing whatever a prudent person would do if he were seriously interested in finding work.
A claimant must not be unemployed because of a labor dispute in active progress where he formerly worked. He must not be an alien who is not authorized to work in the Virgin Islands, a school employee unemployed between school years or terms and who has a reasonable assurance of returning to work when the school year or term begins again, or an athlete unemployed between sport seasons and who has a reasonable assurance of reemployment in the following sport seasons.
A claimant's benefit amount may be reduced, even if he is otherwise qualified, by the receipt of certain types of income such as back pay awarded for wrongful separation, pensions based on previous work, and pay in lieu of notice of separation. If such income equals or exceeds the benefit amount otherwise payable, no benefit will be paid for the week affected.
A claimant may be disqualified for fraud in connection with a claim, such as deliberately not reporting earnings for a week claimed as totally unemployed. Amounts received as benefits would become overpayments that must be repaid by the claimant by one means or another, either through deductions from the weekly benefit check, or a lump sum, or partial payments, if the claimant is not currently receiving benefits.
If you believe a claimant should not be allowed benefits, either initially or for any week(s) during a claim series, you may appeal within 10 days from the date of the determination by submitting a request in writing to the Agency with the necessary information for a hearing. If an appeal decision allows benefits and you disagree, you may appeal further to a District Court within 30 days from the date of the decision. See the notice of appeal rights furnished with each determination or appeal decision, especially the time limits on filing appeals.
When the employer and claimant are in separate locations, especially in cases involving interstate claims, e.g., Virgin Islands and New York, and it is impossible for both parties to make face to face contact each party will be given advance notice to the hearing. The parties will give testimony over the phone and may be cross-examined in the same manner. The telephone hearing will be conducted and controlled by an Appeal Examiner.