When Can I Assume I’m Unemployed?

Question: My boss is ignoring my emails, calls and text messages. I work a “flex” schedule, meaning I get a new schedule before my current assignment ends. I have been working 72 hours or more every week for about two and a half months, but the current assignment is set to end in less than a week and I have not received a new schedule yet, although I’ve asked for one.

I have also asked for a permanent assignment and was then told my rate would be lowered significantly. I have applied to many different positions within the company at or above my current rate and the applications are withdrawn and nobody seems to know how, or I get an interview with our HR department but it seems they just do not care. I have never called off, came in late or had complaints about my performance, but I know my boss doesn’t like me because I attempted to quit about 18 months ago due to lazy employees making my work harder.

I can’t seem to get ahead and now I’m being ignored. If my boss won’t respond to an email, text or call and I am unable to secure a schedule, how long do I need to wait to assume I no longer have a job and I can file for unemployment?

Response: Your question is below this response. Our site focuses on workplace communication issues, but your situation seems to go far, far past a misunderstanding or a solvable conflict.

I think you should find someone closer to you and your work, who may understand your unusual and complex work arrangements and be able to give you more useful advice than we can offer.

It sounds as though you are not a full-time employee, but rather work on a contractual basis. Most states have laws prohibiting the kind of punitive work schedule you have, unless you are being paid over-time after forty hours and have volunteered, or if your contract was specifically for that schedule. Those are labor issues about which we have no expertise.

As far as the question of when you can claim unemployment, that would depend upon your state’s department of labor. But I doubt you will never hear from anyone in the company about your work status. If your company is of any size at all, they will have HR requirements about closing out work records and other administrative matters.

You say your boss has been ignoring your calls, texts and emails. You don’t say how many attempts you made or how you phrased your questions. Perhaps he feels he has already told you what you need to know. Even if that is the case, a good manager would communicate with you and tell you about your schedule or tell you if you will or will not be working there in the future.

If there are other managers or supervisors in your chain of command, perhaps you can talk to them about it. Or, if there is another employees in your same situation, perhaps both of you can go to HR to protest the lack of schedule information.

One thing is for sure: In less than a week your current work schedule is over. If you aren’t given a new schedule, maybe you should just continue the current one and see what happens when you show up at your usual time.

I regret that this is happening to you and hope you are able to get clear information soon. If you have time and wish to do so, let us know what you find out about this mystery!

Best wishes,
Tina Lewis Rowe
Ask The Workplace Doctors

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.