During the 2022 Legislative session, the Iowa Legislature drastically reduced the number of weeks employees may receive unemployment compensation from twenty-six, which was consistent with the vast majority of states, to sixteen. The Legislature also expanded the definition of misconduct to include specific offenses listed in Chapter 96. Most important, the Legislature changed the preamble to the Act, making clear that the purpose of Iowa’s unemployment compensation statute was no longer to aid the most vulnerable of Iowa’s workers, who lost employment through no fault of their own. Over the years, the Federation has provided a pamphlet to Local Unions to help aid members in applying for unemployment compensation and answering questions. Below is the updated version of the pamphlet reflecting the 2022 changes to the statute.
The Iowa unemployment insurance program provides qualified workers temporary income to help them through short periods of unemployment. Employers pay a special tax, which goes into a fund that is used exclusively to pay unemployment claims. This program is administered by the Iowa Department of Workforce Development.
If a worker meets the statutory requirements for unemployment insurance, it is the worker’s RIGHT to receive benefits. A worker, however, must meet a number of conditions to qualify for and receive benefits. This booklet is intended to give you a brief overview of important features of the unemployment insurance program.
You must be a citizen or permanent legal alien lawfully authorized to work who is either totally or partially unemployed through no fault of your own. You must have worked and earned a certain amount of wages in work covered by unemployment insurance in the last fifteen to eighteen months. You must have total base-period earnings of at least 1.25 times the wages you earned in your highest base-period quarter. You must have a minimum amount of wages in the high and low quarters of your base period.
The minimum and maximum amounts change each year for new claims filed after the first Sunday in July. A weekly benefit amount schedule is available upon request at your nearest IowaWORKS Center.
You also must be “able, available, and actively seeking work” for each week for which you will receive benefits. And, you must have lost your job through no fault of your own.
The base period is a four-quarter (one-year) period of time from which your weekly benefit amount (WBA) and maximum benefit amount (MBA) are determined. The amount of wages you earn in the base period determines the amount of unemployment benefits you receive. The base period is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters at the time you file your initial claim for benefits. The quarter in which you file your claim and the preceding quarter are called the lag quarters and normally are not used to determine your benefits.
Example: If you file a new claim in April, May, or June (second quarter), your base period would be the preceding January 1 through December 31.
Yes. Everyone is required to make a minimum of two job contacts each week unless otherwise specified by Iowa Workforce Development. Keep in mind the following:
You must be able and available for work the majority of each workweek.
If you are offered a job, you will have to decide if the job is suitable for you. If you turn down suitable employment, you will be disqualified for receipt of further benefits. You should remember the following points:
Weeks of Unemployment
Percentage of Wage in Highest Quarter
1 to 5
6 to 12
13 to 18