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STEDI

Solutions to Substitute Teachers Collecting Unemployment

STEDI.org asked managers of substitute teachers how they handle substitute teachers filing for unemployment benefits. If you have other ideas to respond to this current issue, please send an email to info@stedi.org. Here are some solutions that we have received:

  • We mail all of our substitute teachers a Letter of Reasonable Assurance that they must sign and return to us if they want to remain on the substitute teacher list. Therefore, we don't have a problem with unemployment.
    - Helen, Napa County Office of Education
  • It is very time consuming, but I respond to every claim by:
    • Sending copies of R/A letters and documentation of their response,
    • Job logs showing attempts to offer work, with a note explaining what "answered no response" means
    • And lately, for those folks who never answer their phones, I include a page from the substitute teacher manual that specifies the calling periods and a statement that the person is an "on-call" substitute teacher.
  • Since substitute teachers can update their own phone numbers, it is up to them to specify where the job offers will be made.
    - Bonnie, El Dorado County Office of Education
  • We use an automated substitute teacher calling system provided by Frontline Placement called Aesop. It is a wonderful system, which is telephone and web based. Employees enter absences either online or via the phone, substitute teachers can look for assignments online or via the phone. Aesop also calls substitute teachers. You can then view a performance report, of the substitute teacher, which shows how many calls for jobs were sent to that substitute teacher and whether they accepted, rejected, or hung up on the job.
    - Elsa, Sonoma County Office of Education
  • The State of Hawaii solved that problem about 10 or 20 years ago by deciding that substitute teachers are ineligible for UI benefits, since school breaks are planned and work can be expected when school resumes. Before that, substitute teachers could apply for UI benefits during breaks such as summer and Christmas. Also, as a general rule, the State UI office says people collecting benefits have to be actively looking for work and not turning down acceptable work (though this is self-reported).
    - Raymond
  • Our district in Illinois does not "hire" substitute teachers, they are "Employees At Will" and thus do not qualify for unemployment.
    - Cathy
  • If substitute teachers don't accept a job or even not answer the phone the first two times you call, drop them from your list! Make them reapply for the job.
    - Julie
  • Whenever we have someone try that, I pull a number of reports from AESOP
    1. showing the calls that are received, and it will also show how many were hang ups, no answers or rejected
    2. showing all of the assignments that were not filled from the time they were hired through the date we reply
    3. listing how they have the phone system set to receive calls
    4. listing the schools they have on their list of where they are willing to work
    5. the preferred substitute teacher list, showing that they are listed at the schools so they will be called when needed
  • They also sign a letter of reasonable assurance, which states as a substitute teacher, they are not guaranteed work, and they are not eligible for unemployment during school breaks and summer time.
    – Kathy, Hutto ISD
  • In Missouri you have to have at least drawn one check from a district to sign up for unemployment benefits. I protest each case as it is submitted. Second, if a person substitute teaches here and files a claim for unemployment we do not call them in subsequent years. Most have pretty much figured out the reason they don’t get a call.
    – Alan
  • Our district has an automated substitute teacher calling system called Aesop. We can run reports that can verify that the employee in question has declined jobs and it will also show how many times a substitute teacher has been called and not answered their phone. In past years when I did my job manually, meaning that I did all the scheduling via phone/email, after several rejections and no answers, I began tracking them myself so I had a real time number to work with and I would document when I called/emailed and what the response was. This was extra work but extremely helpful in those kinds of situations.
    – Renee
  • We face the same problem in Colorado so we have a letter that we send out each summer to reaffirm that people on our list are actually ready and able to substitute teach for us the next year. Then the secretary who calls substitute teachers keeps a log of whom she calls and the responses: no answer, no to substitute teaching that day, and yes. Then if a person does file, we have documentation that we tried to contact the substitute teacher and the response we received.
    – Sandy, Ouray School District R-1
  • In Iowa, the state has passed legislation that defines the eligibility rules for receiving unemployment. These rules define substitute teachers as on-call workers, thus excluding substitute teachers from claims for unemployment.
    – Paula
  • We have principals keep a list of substitute teachers and record refusals to work. Then when we appeal the unemployment ruling, we make the case that the claimant has refused work.
    – John, Rockland Public Schools
  • We have found that one benefit of a substitute teacher calling system is the ability to produce reports verifying the times and dates they were called and offered a job and the substitute teacher’s responses. I have successfully disputed several claims. Once the word gets out, the number of claims drops. We explain that to the substitute teachers during orientation as well.
    – Patrick, St. Charles Parish
  • We just go to our calling log to see how many times they have been called. After so long I may even send them a resignation letter to sign.
    – Mary, Springfield City Schools
  • In Red Oak, we require our substitute teachers, during orientation, to sign a "Letter of Reasonable Assurance" that states they may not file for unemployment. We explain, again during orientation, that this type of work is as a non-contract employee and holds no promise of work. If they try filing, we use the Aesop substitute teacher calling system we have to verify they were offered assignments and they turned them down (not answering a phone is the same as saying NO).
    - Margaret, Red Oak ISD
  • We issue written guarantees of reasonable assurance for continued employment.
    – Fay, Norwalk Public Schools
  • When we sign up new teachers we ask that they work at least once a month to remain active in SubFinder. We pull reports on teachers that never work, I call them and either speak to them or leave a message. If I don’t hear back from them and they continue to not work we inactivate them in SubFinder. We get calls from the unemployment office and provide them with information on our substitute teachers. If they never work we pull a report and inform EDD or their status.
    – Elizabeth
  • We, too, have seen quite a few filings for unemployment. When we send out our Reasonable Assurance of Return form in May, there is a section that must be initialed by the substitute teacher. It reads: "YES, it is my intent to continue as a substitute teachers/nurse for Mesa Public Schools during the 2009-10 school year. I understand that if I do not accept a reasonable number of substitute teacher assignments in accordance with my profile and availability dates, I may be dropped from the active substitute teacher roster." Then, about three times in the year, I print a statistical report which shows each substitute teacher, number of times called, number of times worked, last day worked. I then can remove any substitute teacher who has not worked a reasonable amount of time from my system. I am not hard nosed about this. If the substitute teacher has worked at least three times in a semester, I do not remove him/her.
    – Terrie, Mesa Public Schools
  • In our district, the El Dorado County Office of Education manages all of our substitute teachers; nevertheless, we still get some who file for unemployment. Our COE issues a letter of reasonable assurance in the spring to the substitute teachers. When someone files, we deny it, since they are hourly, at will employees who do not work during the summer anyway. If the claim is appealed, I send copies of the letter of reasonable assurance to the EDD. The denials have stood up, so far.
    – Coleen, Buckeye Union School District
  • One of my responsibilities is to take very good notes when calling the substitute teachers on our list. If a substitute teacher declines a job, I record it. The business office will notify me when a substitute teacher is drawing unemployment. I call the substitute teachers on the list who are claiming the unemployment as much as possible. I submit a report to the business office every two weeks of who is working, who is not and why. With good documentation, this district has reduced the unemployment claims.
    – Teresa, Wayland-Cohocton Central School

If you have an idea that might help other Substitute Teacher Managers with this issue, please email it to info@stedi.org