• Staci Sweet

Unemployment for Seasonal Workers in Texas

In September I took a seasonal position with a temp agency. The assignment ended February 1st. I took back their equipment and later that day received an email entitled, ‘Employer Notification to Employees of the Availability of Unemployment Compensation.’ Up until that point, I hadn’t really thought much about applying, other than on the days when management went above and beyond with their micromanagement. Though I could write about how dehumanizing the experience made me feel, I’ll spare you the details.

After receiving the email, I immediately applied, thinking I’d be approved because ordinarily after temp assignments, depending upon the duration, you usually are. However, unbeknownst to me, I was not because according to the correspondence, I, “did not earn enough in [my] base period to qualify for benefits.” WTW? What is the base period?

Base Periods in Texas

The “base period is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters before the effective date of [the] initial claim.” [1] The site states they don’t, “…use the quarter in which you file or the quarter before that; [they] use the one-year period before those two quarters.” [2]

If you’re a nonseasonal employee, those dates work fine. But in the event you’re a seasonal employee, then those dates are detrimental to your livelihood, and here’s why.

How Base Periods Hurt Seasonal Employees

Seasonal employment typically begins in August through October and usually ends around February. With that in mind and considering the base period, seasonal employees will immediately lose the first month of the quarter. The first quarter being January through March. As a seasonal employee you can be like, “Oh, okay! That’s messed up but at least I can get the last quarter, October through December, right?” WRONG!

Though it says the first four out of the last five completed calendar quarters, the Texas Workforce Commission doesn’t allow you to use the last quarter (i.e., the 4th quarter), and here’s why.

According to their website it states, “We do not use the quarter in which you file or the quarter before that.” [3] Again, the quarter in which we file would be anytime from January through March. The quarter before that would be the 4th quarter, which is October through December, which again is typically during season, and as such would mean that most seasonal employees in the state of Texas cannot receive unemployment benefits.

I thought this was a fluke but then I remembered the same thing happened to me last year.

In August of 2020, I took another seasonal position. That job ended in February 2021. That company also sent me a similar email. However, when I applied, I was denied for the same reason. Fast forward a year later, and it’s denied again. At first, I thought it was just me, like maybe they just denied me. But when I thought about it, I realized that rule affects ALL SEASONAL EMPLOYEES which makes it even worse.

My question is:

Why would you not allow someone, who just experienced a job loss, to not be able to claim their benefits? And furthermore, why would you exclude two whole quarters?

That’s just like saying that corporations cannot file or receive their 4th quarter earnings. Amazon® recently reported ‘$14.3 billion in net income for Q4’ [4] while Tesla® ‘saw $2.32 billion’ [5] and according to Reuters, Russia’s Sberbank® netted $16 billion [6] and I know Russia has nothing to do with this, but you see my point.

And because I’m the mom of a sports expert, I’ll go so far as to say it’s like the Patriots. Every time I’d watch them, I saw that during the 1st quarter they’d do their thing but during the 2nd and 3rd quarters, they’d fall back and let their opponents get ahead. But in typical Patriot style, they’d come back at a feverish pace, only to win the game. It’s as if Coach Belichick and Brady were saying, “Yeah, y’all thought y’all was doing somethin’, didn’t you?” That’s what this reminds me of.

For a seasonal employee to work or a team to compete in all quarters but to be told the only points that’ll apply are those obtained during the 2nd and 3rd quarters is foolery. I mean, who does that? The State of Texas that’s who. And I wonder why?

Could it be that more Black and Brown people are unemployed in the state of Texas? I don’t know and I definitely don’t want to make this into an issue of race, seeing as how seasonal employees are typically retirees, single mom’s, or solopreneurs looking to supplement their income. And though I can understand the rule, it doesn’t justify excluding an entire sector of people from receiving benefits that are rightfully theirs….I mean ours. Thinking this is something that needs to be discussed with my congressperson. #maybeIwill (in my Austin Powers voice). #staytuned

Update 2/9/2022: Emailed my State Representative, Senator and Congressman.


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4 - Ferre, Ines. "Amazon Stock Soars 15% After Earnings, Will Hike Prime Membership Fee." Yahoo! News. Yahoo!, 03 Feb. 2022. Web. 09 Feb. 2022.

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6 - Golubkova, Katya, and Jason Neely. "Russia's Sberbank Posts Record High $16 BLN Annual Net Profit." Reuters. Thomson Reuters, 14 Jan. 2022. Web. 09 Feb. 2022.

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