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December 12th, 2012 12:01 am MARTY SMITH | Dr. Know

Dr. Know: Tis the Seasonal Job Scam

If I quit my day job for a seasonal one and get laid off, can I collect unemployment?

drknowILLUSTRATION: Hawk Krall

I am dying to be rid of the shackles of my heinous day job. If I quit and took a seasonal holiday job, and then got laid off from that, would I qualify for unemployment?

—Jane M.

Before I reply, Jane, I’d like to thank you for asking your question succinctly, rather than forcing me to edit it down from a 2,000-word monstrosity complete with recipes. Are you listening, other readers? I’m a busy man—all this porn’s not going to watch itself.

Unfortunately, when it comes to securing your personal teat on the unemployment-benefits sow, there are no guarantees. “Each case is adjudicated individually on its own merits,” says Craig Spivey of the Oregon Employment Department.

This means before you embark on your rather speculative plan, you’ll need to ask yourself some tough questions. Do you generally come off as an honest, hardworking individual? Or do you display the glib tongue and checkered employment history of the habitual bullshit artist?

This is important, because you will have to convince an actual person—one whose job, I might add, is to ferret out scams like yours—that your job switch from systems analyst to department-store elf was undertaken in good faith, as a savvy career move.

You won’t just need to fool your boss at Santaland, either. The Employment Department will contact all your employers for the previous 15 months, so if you’ve told Bill Lumbergh at Initech about your idea, they’re gonna know.

Finally, Spivey says the average weekly benefit is only $280, so it’s hardly worth it. (Though you and I know it’ll be easy enough to supplement that figure by stripping and dealing weed.)

Still, as long as you don’t do anything stupid—like, say, notify your city’s leading newsweekly of your intentions—you might well succeed. Good luck!

QUESTIONS? Send them to dr.know@wweek.com.
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