Information for lecturers on unemployment benefits
Modified May 17, 2013

All part-time lecturers, including those on three-year contract, are eligible to receive unemployment insurance during breaks–including summer and winter–in their employment; this is true even if you have signed the appointment letter for the coming term, because what you have signed is contingent on budget, enrollment, and program changes. Full-time lecturers on unconditional appointments are not eligible during the terms of their appointments, but are eligible at the end of a 3-year appointment and before they sign a successor unconditional 3-year appointment.

As a result of the 1989 Cervisi decision, lecturers who do not have “reasonable assurance” of returning to work can receive unemployment compensation during breaks in employment. Lecturers are eligible for benefits during all semester/quarter breaks and summer and/or during a quarter/semester in which they are not offered employment.

To qualify, lecturers must not be fully employed elsewhere and must not have “reasonable assurance” of returning to work with an education institution following the period without employment. (Code Section 1253.3).

All appointment offers to part-time lecturers are contingent upon meeting minimum enrollment, funding levels, or program continuation. Such contingent offers do not constitute “reasonable assurance” of reemployment as defined in the state unemployment code. In addition, Article 12.29 permits a lecturer to be “bumped” from his/her class, and if this happens before the third class session the Lecturer will only be paid for the hours s/he was in class – not for prep time, office hours, or grading.

Thus, most lecturers are eligible for unemployment benefits.

Don’t assume that a statement from your department chair that you will teach in the fall is a firm offer of employment not contingent upon budget and enrollment. The only way that you do NOT qualify for unemployment benefits is if you currently have an appointment letter that states that you will be employed in the fall and which also explicitly states that your appointment is NOT contingent upon budget and enrollment. Even if your name is in the schedule of classes, you’ve ordered your books, and you’ve signed the upcoming term’s appointment letter, you do not have a legally recognized “reasonable assurance” of work.


Even though lecturers may be re-employed at the end of a summer or after breaks between terms, this has no bearing on unemployment insurance eligibility and cannot be used to deny benefits. When you request these benefits, you are simply asking CSU to acknowledge your lack of job security.

To apply, go to their website at: call the EDD at 800-300-5616. EDD prefers that you apply online, and section IV of the Lecturer Crisis Guide #4 (modified 5/29/12) on the CFA Lecturers’ HomePage contains all of the answers to the questions on the EDD online application for UI benefits, including how to answer the recently changed – and more complicated – question 33 regarding past employment.

  1. Apply for UI benefits the day after the last official day of the term in question. If you don’t have this date on your appointment letter, you can find it on the official academic calendar of your campus web site. Don’t delay applying, because eligibility for payments begins the day you apply, regardless of how long you may have already been unemployed. There is also a one-week waiting period for each benefit year. EDD recommends that you file your application online. If you haven’t already done so, download the Lecturer Crisis Guide #4 from the Lecturers’ HomePage, as indicated above. For those on semester campuses, be sure to have your three most recent appointment letters in front of you;  for those on quarter campuses, you should have the most recent four quarters. If instead, you file via telephone, tell the EDD worker on the phone:
    1. you do not currently have an appointment letter or contract;
    2. your appointment letter is usually sent at the end of the summer;
    3. your appointment letter is conditional upon budget, enrollment, and prgram changes;
    4. your current appointment letter states that after your appointment ends, no further employment is implied (if your appointment letter states this); if it doesn’t, you can cite Article 12.4 of the CBA: “The official notification to a temporary employee shall also indicate that appointments automatically expire at the end of the period stated and do not establish consideration for subsequent appointment rights. No other notice shall be provided.”

      If you are asked for a local union number, CFA is number 1983.

      Your eligibility is confirmed by EDD Statute 1253.3.(g) and sections 12.4 and 12.5 of the CFA contract. Remember that the pay checks you receive over the summer are compensation for work you did during the your teaching in fall and spring, not for any employment in the summer. The same pertains to the winter break. It is important to understand that you are NOT on recess between terms. Permament faculty have recess; what part-time lecturers on contingent appointments have is a temporary appointment with a start date and an end date, and no reasonable assurance of future work. If anyone from EDD asks “when does your recess end”, you answer should be “I’m not on recess; my temporary, contingent appointment ended, and as per EDD statute 1253.3g I lack reasonable assurance of work.”
  2. Upon receiving your claim, EDD will contact the campus to confirm your employment status and to ask if you have “reasonable assurance” of returning to work. In some cases. If your campus HR deparment or TALX erroneously informs EDD that you either have reasonable assurance of work, and/or that the checks you receive year-round are earned year-round, don’t panic. Instead, contact Jonathan Karpf or Dan Bratten, your Lecturer Unemployment specialists, immediately; our contact information is at the end of the Lecturer Crisis Guide #4.


If the campus informs EDD that you are returning or still employed, EDD is likely to deny benefits. If this happens, it is very important to file an appeal. If you are denied benefits, you will be notified in writing. The notification will explain your right to appeal and give instructions on how to appeal, including time lines. If you have to appeal a denial of eligibility before an administrative law judge (ALJ), contact Jonathan or Dan immediately!

It is important that you follow these time lines precisely. An appeal means an informal hearing will be held by an administrative law judge who will quickly render a decision. The process is generally fair and will likely result in your receiving retroactive benefits if you did not have “reasonable assurance” of employment. Before you contact Jonathan or Dan, please assemble the following documents:

  • A copy of your appointment letter for the present year/semester/quarter
  • A copy of the CFA/CSU Collective Bargaining Agreement, with special attention to sections 12.4 and 12.5, Appointment for Temporary Faculty. (It is available from your Chapter office or on the CFA web site under Contract) and also 12.29 (Preference for Available Temporary Work.
  • Copies of previous appointment letters, which are useful because they demonstrate that they usually go out at a late date and thus aid in establishing the uncertainty of your reappointment 
  • Any documents or letters from the department chair, other faculty, the campus administration, or the press indicating the uncertainty of funding and/or enrollment levels for the coming semester/quarter;
  • Evidence that you have attempted to secure teaching work during this period of unemployment such as letters or records of phone calls to other departments or campuses.

Before you attend an ALJ hearing, contact Jonathan or Dan, and they will send you a “Testimony by Declaration,” as well as a few other relevant documents that you should drop off for the ALJ at least one day before the hearing. When you testify, make sure to point out to the administrative law judge the relevant conditional provisions in your appointment letter and in the Collective Bargaining Agreement to help demonstrate the uncertainty of your reappointment. Also, point out the uncertainties of funding and enrollment for the department.


1253.3.(g) For purposes of this section, “reasonable assurance” includes but is not limited to, an offer of employment or assignment made by the educational institution, provided that the offer or assignment is not contingent on enrollment, funding, or program changes. An individual who has been notified that he or she will be replaced and does not have an offer of employment or assignment to perform services for an educational institution is not considered to have reasonable assurance.