Able to Work, Available for Work and Actively Seeking Work - Sections 8-903, 8-904, 8-907 - Maryland Unemployment Decisions Digest - Appeals
The provisions dealing with a claimant's ability to work and availability for work are located in Sections 8-903, 8-904 and 8-907 of the Labor and Employment Article of the Maryland Annotated Code.
Section 8-903 provides that in order for a claimant to be eligible for benefits, the claimant shall be able to work, available for work and actively seeking work. Biweekly claim certification forms are used to document that a claimant is meeting these requirements.
A claimant is able to work if he is physically and mentally capable of working. A claimant must be able to work at the time he initially files for benefits. A claimant with a temporary medical restriction, who then becomes able to work, can be eligible for benefits if he submits a physician's note verifying that the restriction is lifted.
The claimant does not necessarily need to be able to perform his or her past work in order to be considered able to work. If a claimant can no longer perform former work, an assessment will be made of the claimant's ability to work based on the following factors: (1) the type of work formerly done by the claimant; (2) the type of work the claimant is capable of performing at the time the claims in issue were filed; (3) the type of work sought in light of the medical restrictions on the claimant; and (4) the existence of a market for the kind of work done by the claimant.
A claimant who is restricted from performing certain work is not disqualified under Section 8-903 if he shows that he is able to do other work and is in fact seeking this other work.
Effective October 1, 1993 the General Assembly amended Section 8-903(b) to state that the Secretary may not use the disability of a qualified individual with a disability as a factor in finding that an individual is not able to work under Section 8-903(a)(l)(i).
Section 8-903 requires that in order to be eligible for benefits, a claimant must be available for work. A claimant who is free to accept a full-time job during the customary hours of that job is "available" for work.
Section 8-903 (a)(4) as amended effective March 1, 2011, provides that a part-time worker may not be determined to be ineligible for the receipt of benefits if the individual is able to work: (i) hours that are comparable to the individual's work at the time of the most recent separation from part-time employment and (ii) at last 20 hours per work.
The third requirement of Section 8-903 is that the claimant "actively seek work." In determining whether a claimant is actively seeking work, the statute directs the Secretary to consider: (1) whether the claimant has made an effort that is reasonable and that would be expected of an unemployed individual who is honestly looking for work; and (2) the extent of the effort in relation to the labor market conditions in the area in which the claimant is seeking work.
Other factors which can affect whether or not a claimant is actively seeking work are the number of job contacts made per week and the location of the job contacts.
Able to Work, Available for Work and Actively Seeking Work - Sections 8-903, 8-904, 8-907
The term "available for work" as used in Section 8-903 means, among other things, that a claimant is actively seeking work. The term refers to a general willingness to work demonstrated by an active and reasonable search to obtain work. Plaugher v. Preston Trucking, 279-BH-84.
The statute exempts certain claimants from actively seeking work. Section 8-904(a) allows employees to be exempt from the requirement of actively seeking work if the employer closes its entire plant or part of its plant for inventory, vacation or another purpose that will cause unemployment for a definite period not exceeding ten weeks and if the circumstances and labor market conditions justify the exemption.
Section 8-904(b) allows employees to be exempt from the work search requirement whenever an employer closes its entire plant or part of its plant for a purpose other than inventory or vacation that will cause unemployment for a definite period not to exceed 26 weeks if: (1) the employer and affected employees jointly request the exemption; (2) the employer provides that all affected employees shall return to work within 26 weeks; and (3) the Secretary determines that the exemption will promote productivity and economic stability within the state.
Section 8-903(c) allows an individual who is otherwise eligible for benefits to forego the requirement of making job contacts if the individual is participating in a training program approved by the Secretary.
1. Short-Term Layoffs
A claimant who is temporarily laid off for a certain period of less than ten weeks may be exempt from actively seeking work during the layoff. However, Section 8-904 does not exempt a laid off worker from being able to work and available for work. Spaniard, 409-BR-84.
2. Approved Training Programs
The claimant attended the East Side Occupational Center for training and was granted a waiver of the requirement of seeking work under Section 8-903 for the period until she completed the course. No disqualification was appropriate under Section 8-903 as the claimant was in an approved training program. Schlimm v. Aetna Shirt Company, 241-BH-86.
The claimant was in training approved by the Secretary under Section 8-903. No disqualification was imposed. The Board has no authority to approve training programs under Section 8-903. Sather, 829-BR-87.
The claimant was not engaged in approved training and was not exempt from the work search requirements of Section 8-903. Neither the hearing examiner nor the Board has the authority to waive these requirements. Charron, 1119-BR-90.
A claimant who has been found to be in training approved by the Secretary need not meet the availability requirements of Section 8-903. Kincer, 2125-BR-93.
3. Part-Time Employment
As amended effective March 1, 2011, a part-time worker may not be determined to be ineligible for the receipt of benefits. See Introduction to this section.
C. Scope of Section 8-903 Penalty
The refusal of employment at a single place of employment could properly justify a disqualification under Section 8-1005 (refusal of suitable work), but should not bring about a disqualification under Section 8-903. Adams, et al. v. Cambridge Wire Cloth Company, 264-BH-82.
A disqualification under Section 8-903 ends when the claimant is released by the doctor to return to work, not when the agency learns of the release. Dean v. High's of Baltimore, Inc., 429-BR-89.
A claimant should not be penalized for not being able to work during weeks for which she never intended to apply for benefits. Ready, 1224-BH-92.
D. Effect of Private Agreements
An agreement between an employer and employee, or the employee and his union, does not bind the agency in the application of Section 8-903. An employer offering part-time, intermittent work cannot by practice, contract or otherwise, define for its laid off workers the requirements of Section 8-903. Weaver v. Roadway Express, 942-BR-81.
E. Temporary Agencies
A claimant who fails to seek part-time work, even after having worked for a temporary agency, is not disqualified under Section 8-903 as long as he is seeking full-time, permanent work. A claimant who once works for a temporary agency is not forever bound to seek temporary or part-time work in order to remain eligible for unemployment benefits. Millner v. Personnel Industries, Inc., 1120-BR-88. See, COMAR 09.32.02.07-2, effective October 1, 1995.
When a claimant is diligently searching for permanent work, a refusal of various temporary assignments which would hinder the search is not disqualifying. Godfrey v. Barrett Business Services, Inc., 1148-BR-88.
The fact that a claimant was unable to take a temporary assignment because she had an interview for a full-time job is not disqualifying under the unemployment insurance law. Fleishman v. Temps and Company, Inc., 602-BR-92.
A claimant was able to work and available for work, even though she made a decision not to contact a temporary agency for work during a specific week, because she was seeking full-time work during that week. McDermott v. Xelsen, Inc., 1625-BR-92.
A. Physical Restrictions and Limitations
1. In General
A claimant may, in certain circumstances, be held to be able and available for work even if unable to perform his or her last job. The law simply requires that an individual be able to work. Changes in an individual's condition may occur through illness, accident or the passage of years which may require a change in the work habits of an individual. In a case where a claimant cannot perform former work, a determination under Section 8-903 must be made, and the following factors must be considered:
- 1) The type of work formerly done by the claimant;
- 2) The type of work the claimant was capable of performing at the time the claims in issue were filed;
- 3) The type of work the claimant sought in light of the medical restrictions placed upon him; and
- 4) The existence of or market for the type of work the claimant is seeking.
Therefore, a claimant laboratory technician who could not stand for a prolonged period of time due to an injury met the eligibility requirements of Section 8-903 where she was looking for laboratory work which did not require standing, in addition to clerical and receptionist work for which she had some experience. Waring v. Burton Parsons, Inc., 847-BH-81.
The claimant's reclassification by the agency itself was sufficient to show an adequate number of light clerk and/or cashiering jobs available in the economy. Surguy v. Forest Service, 10-BH-86.
A claimant who is restricted from performing certain work is not disqualified under Section 8-903 if he shows that he is able to do other work and is, in fact, seeking other work that he is capable of performing during the time he has the restriction. Connor v. City of Baltimore, 416-BR-87.
When severe limitations are placed upon a claimant's ability to work, the claimant has the burden of showing not only that she was seeking work, but seeking work that she could do, given her limitations. Swafford v. U.S. Postal Service, 252-BH-89.
A claimant need not be able to do every type of work that she has ever done in order to be able to work within the meaning of Section 8-903. Where the claimant remained able to do the type of work which she had customarily performed on a full-time basis, that claimant was not disqualified under Section 8-903 for being unable to perform an additional type of work which she customarily performed on a part-time basis. Werle v. Giant of Landover, Inc., 2170-BR-92.
2. Avoidance of Stress or Strain
Although the claimant's physician advised the claimant to avoid jobs which would subject him to "undue stress or strain," this limitation was not disqualifying under Section 8-903, considering the claimant's work history and more than adequate job search. Fried v. Suburban Bank, 29-BR-84.
3. Physical Inability to Do Work
NOTE: Effective October 1, 1993, the General Assembly amended Section 8-903(b) to state that the Secretary may not use the disability of a qualified individual with a disability as a factor in finding that an individual is not able to work under section 8-903(a)(l)(i).
The claimant, who had knee surgery and was restricted from working at her previous job but could do sedentary work, was able and available for work under Section 8-903 where she had experience in the clerical field and diligently applied for work in this field. Yancy v. Gay Kiddie Shop, Inc., 1575-BH-91.
A claimant cannot open a claim for unemployment insurance benefits on the day that he has surgery scheduled and claim that he was able, available and actively seeking work that day. Brooker v. Locust Lane Farms, Inc., 2551-BR-94.
The claimant's "disability" of "mental impairment" was not used as a factor in finding that the claimant was able to work. However, the claimant admitted that she was not available for work nor was she actively seeking work as the law requires. Therefore, she would still be disqualified under Article 8, Section 903. Deborah A. Laughard, 01119-BH-98 (1998).
A claimant demonstrated that, other than the restrictions placed upon her by her physician which constituted a "disability", she was otherwise able and available for full-time work. The claimant's disability resulted in her having to use a cane and avoid prolonged periods of standing. But for her disability, the claimant was otherwise qualified for benefits. Therefore, the claimant was meeting the requirements of the law. Maria F. Disalvo v. Hairstylists Mgmt Systems, Inc., 02423-BR-96 (1996).
The claimant became unemployed due to the closing of a small law practice for which she worked. During her employment, the claimant became afflicted with fibromyalgia. Because of that medical condition, her employer made accommodations which included, but was not limited to, the placing of the claimant on a flexible part-time schedule. The claimant is willing to work and searched for work since becoming unemployed. Her search was consistent with the accommodations made for the claimant by her former employer due the claimant's disability. The Board held that the claimant suffered from a medical disability and pursuant to Labor & Employment Article, Section 8-903(b) should not be denied benefits because of "disability-related" restrictions. Morrilow Morrell, 1909-SE-00 (2000).
The claimant was able and available to work when she was pregnant; she was not disabled. Shepard, 637-BR-91.
The pregnant claimant became unable to perform her duties as a cook which required heavy lifting up to 50 pounds, and therefore left her employment. The claimant continued to seek lighter work for which she was qualified and had experience. The claimant was able to work at a wide range of jobs for which she was qualified and therefore no disqualification was imposed under Section 8-903. However, a disqualification was imposed during the seven-week period in which the claimant was unable to work due to her advanced stage of pregnancy and during her postpartum recovery period. Hill v. Whitey and Dot's, 718-BH-84.
C. Chronic Health Problems
No disqualification was imposed under Section 8-903 based upon the claimant's chronic health problems which did not prevent her from doing work in the past. Ruckman v. Wheaton Plaza Merchants Association, 401-BR-84.
D. Temporary Illness
A claimant's illness for the better part of one day will not support a disqualification of benefits under Section 8-903 for the entire week. Cuff v. Chesapeake Plywood, 1356-BR-82.
E. Health Problems Not Affecting Job Performance
Although officially restricted to light duty, if a claimant can perform all of the duties of her former job for up to 40 hours per week, is clearly capable of performing those jobs for which she was applying, and is capable of performing a wide range of jobs which are commonly available in the evening, she is able to work within the meaning of Section 8-903. White v. U.S. Postal Service, 534-BR-87.
Although the claimant suffered physical symptoms as a result of the stress of one particular job, he remained able to work at most positions and was therefore able and available under Section 8-903. Vallie, 860-BR-89.
F. Proof Required to Lift Penalty
1. Medical Release
A claimant who has been released to return to full-time work, without restrictions, is able to work within the meaning of Section 8-903 from the date of the release. Brooks, 12-BR-85.
The claimant had broken her small toe, but it did not affect her ability to stand or perform the type of work she normally performed. The claimant's injury was so minimal that the requirement of producing a doctor's note was unreasonable. The law does not require or contemplate that apparently healthy people should be required to produce doctors' notes to verify that fact. To do so would place an onerous and unnecessary burden on those who are out of work and who need to devote their time to finding work again. The claimant was able to work. Blue, 1571-BR-93.
A doctor's note may be strong evidence of ability to work, but the presence or absence of a doctor's note does not absolve the fact finder from making a judgment on whether the claimant is meeting the requirements of Section 8-903. Blue, 1571-BR-93.
A doctor's note usually reaches only the issue of ability to work. There is no reason to expect a doctor's note to establish availability for work, or to disqualify a claimant because the note does not reach that issue. Whittington, 2037-BR-93.
2. Other Evidence
A claimant's actual return to full-time work demonstrates that the claimant is "able to work," even though no medical evidence is submitted. Braddock v. Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Company, 101-BR-85.
The claimant is able and available under Section 8-903 where there is insufficient evidence to refute the claimant's testimony that he is able to work and where it is easy to observe the effects of the claimant's injury. Mays v. American Concrete, Inc., 1330-BR-91.
III. Availability for Work
A. In General
A claimant's three days of unavailability for work over a four-week period does not establish that she didn't meet the requirements of Section 8-903. Marsch, 554-BR-88.
The claimant was available for work under Section 8-903 where there were only a few hours per week during one evening when the claimant was not available for work, and where his work history shows in general an ability to conform to the requirements of a normal work day and also attend school on a flexible, part-time schedule. Dawson v. Bayliner Marine Corporation, 360-BR-90.
The claimant accepted a bona fide offer of employment. As a condition of employment, she was required to participate for a number of weeks in a training program for which no wages were paid. It is contrary to the intent of the unemployment insurance law to deny a claimant benefits under Section 8-903 in these circumstances. Hradsky, 1827-BR-95.
B. Work-Related Issues
1. Hours of Work
It is inaccurate to say that a claimant must be willing to work any and all shifts. The relevant question is whether a claimant is reasonably available for work to the extent that a person actually desiring to work and making it the highest priority in his or her life would be. Harwell, 1861-BR-92.
No disqualification is imposed upon a claimant who worked all available hours of which he was actually aware, although the employer was unsuccessful in reaching the claimant by telephone with additional intermittent work on several occasions. There is no requirement that the claimant be available to answer every phone call, since the claimant is actually required in most cases to be out of the home looking for work. Weaver v. Roadway Express, 942-BR-81.
The claimant was not available for work until she relaxed her restriction against working evening hours. The type of work she sought and her previous employment both required evening hours. Chambers v. Fannin and Walker Services, Inc., 657-BH-88.
The claimant, who was not available for night work because of serious personal problems, was not disqualified for benefits under Section 8-903 where the claimant's experience and job search were sufficiently broad and most jobs for which she applied were conducted during the daytime hours. Spence, 986-BR-90.
2. Restrictions Caused by Other Employment
a. Accepting Part-Time Work
The unemployment insurance law was not intended to punish people who are otherwise able to work, available for work, and actively seeking work merely because they accept part-time work, rather than remain idle. Helmstetter v. U.S. Postal Service, 1507-BR-82.
The acceptance of part-time employment will not normally serve as a reason to disqualify a claimant from the receipt of unemployment insurance benefits under Section 8-903, unless a claimant deliberately obtains part-time work for the purpose of avoiding full-time work. Salomon, 838-BR-83.
A claimant who is operating a business out of her home is not automatically disqualified under Section 8-903 when she is actively seeking work, and is willing to cut back the hours of her home business to accommodate her full-time employment. Wiley, 453-BR-89.
The claimant, who engaged in self-employment for two hours per day, but was simultaneously searching for full-time employment, was able and available under Section 8-903. Lane, 832-BR-89.
The claimant is not meeting the eligibility requirements of the law where he is spending 25 hours per week trying to set up his own business, and contacting two to three employers per week in his job search. A claimant must not completely divest himself of his business to meet the requirements of Section 8-903, but a claimant who spends as much as 25 hours per week promoting his business, while making only two to three job contacts, is not meeting the Section 8-903 requirements. Veith, 34-BR-82.
A claimant who works two to three hours per day in self-employment, is able and available under Section 8-903 where the business is only intended as a sideline and the claimant is diligently looking for full-time work. Pequigny, 278-BR-90.
The claimant was looking for contracts, casual work and laboring work of any kind, both part-time and full-time, as both an employee and a contractor. He was able to work and available for work. Sansone, 1519-BR-93.
c. Corporate Officer
It is appropriate to closely examine the eligibility of corporate officers under Section 8-903. Although a corporate officer spent up to one-half day, once every three weeks, on corporate business, he otherwise energetically sought work and no disqualification will be imposed. Fisher v. Fisher Products Corporation, 1043-BH-81.
3. Leave of Absence
A penalty under Section 8-903 should be applied where a claimant removes herself from the job pursuant to a voluntary leave of absence. In such a case, the claimant is not available for work under Section 8-903 until the expiration of the leave. Smith v. APG, Inc., 675-BR-88.
As part of the disposition of a disciplinary matter, the claimant agreed to take a leave of absence without pay for personal reasons. A claimant who voluntarily removes himself from the work force for a substantial period of time pursuant to a leave of absence granted at his request is not able and available under Section 8-903. Kinion v. Division of Parole and Probation, 649-BH-88.
Generally, when a claimant has taken a voluntary leave of absence, she is not able and available during the entire length of the leave, even if she is ready to return to work prior to the expiration of the leave, but the employer does not have a position available. However, when the employer fails to abide by the terms of the leave and hold open the claimant's position for the agreed-upon length of time, it would be unfair to hold the claimant to the terms of the leave of absence and find her unavailable for work until the expiration of the leave. Kachnowich v. Baltimore County, 1338-BR-92.
There is an exception to the general rule that a claimant is not available for work during the entire period of a leave of absence where the leave is for two years but the claimant returns after nine months, gets on a reinstatement list and seeks full-time work. Rahman v. State Highway Administration 291005001, 1721-BR-95.
The claimant injured her wrist in an off-the-job accident. The doctor released her for light duty work. The employer had no light duty work available. The claimant offered to return to her regular job, but the employer, fearing a re-injury, refused to allow her to do so. The employer continued the claimant on an unpaid leave of absence. While on the leave of absence, the claimant sought other work for which she was qualified, thereby meeting the requirements of Section 8-903. Lewis v. Minneapolis Postal Data Center, 1175-BH-88.
4. Future Employment
The claimant LPN, who was pregnant, was placed on an involuntary leave of absence because she could not lift over 40 pounds. During the course of the claimant's unemployment, she sought other positions (such as bank teller and sales clerk), telling prospective employers that she intended to return to the field of nursing after her baby was born. No disqualification under Section 8-903 was imposed. It is inconsistent with the purpose of the unemployment insurance law to require a claimant to forego hope of employment or reemployment in the future in order to qualify for benefits, or to disqualify a claimant who has a date certain to return to work. Neither is Section 8-903 meant to disqualify a claimant on the grounds of "unavailability" for work solely because she honestly indicates to prospective employers the realities of her employment situation. Bentz v. Pleasant View Nursing Home, 411-BR-85.
The claimant was not unreasonably restricting her availability for work because she anticipated going into business with her husband sometime in the near future, and some of her prospective employers knew this when she applied for work. Koski v. Apex Associates, Inc., 1462-BR-91.
The claimant, who lost his job in January, 1991, and who had a bona fide offer to begin a new job on February 1, 1991, was not unreasonable in refusing another job offer as a bus driver at that time. However, two months later, when the original job offer was retracted, the claimant should have been willing to work full-time as a bus driver. Settle v. Bill Rohrbaugh's Charter Service Corporation, 1552-BR-91.
5. Isolated, Temporary Activity
A claimant's illness for the better part of one day, will not support a disqualification under Section 8-903 for the entire week. Isolated, fortuitous incidents do not establish, in and of themselves, unavailability for work the entire week. Cuff v. Chesapeake Plywood, 1356-BR-82.
Walking a picket line one day per week does not, in and of itself, necessarily disqualify that claimant under Section 8-903. Adams, et al. v. Cambridge Wire Cloth Company, 264-BH-82.
The claimant was able and available under Section 8-903 where she notified the local office that she would be unable to attend a scheduled interview because she would be out of town that day. The claimant was out of town only the day of the interview. Merritt, 1-BR-90.
C. Personal Issues
1. Family Matters
a. Child Care
There is no requirement that a babysitter be engaged while a claimant looks for work, as long as babysitting is available once the claimant finds a job. Mathes, 232-BR-93.
b. Illness of Child
The claimant was not available for work nor actively seeking work during weeks in which the claimant was without a babysitter and had to care for her ill child herself. Buchanan v. Bata Shoe Company, 2006-SE-83.
It is not a restriction on a claimant's availability to work if the claimant states that she would be required to pick up her child if the child becomes ill or the child's school closes unexpectedly. Ensey, 1355-BR-94.
2. Self-Imposed Restrictions
Even though she severely limited the geographical area in which she was looking for work, the claimant was able to make the required job contacts for a period of time and was eligible for benefits under Section 8-903. However, once she exhausted any reasonable possibilities of employment in her limited geographical area, her failure to expand her work search area resulted in her being unavailable for work. At that point, the claimant became ineligible under Section 8-903. Brunner, 199-BR-89.
The lack of a driver's license does not automatically show that a claimant is not able and available for work. Evans v. Potomac Insulation, Inc., 696-BR-83.
Where a claimant does not have private transportation, but is willing to accept work at any location which can be reached by public transportation within the normal working day, no disqualification is imposed under Section 8-903. Ervin v. Government Service Savings and Loan, 297-BR-85.
It is not necessary for a claimant to own a working automobile in order to be eligible for unemployment benefits, and no disqualification can be imposed so long as the claimant is making a reasonable and active search for work. Armstrong, 1142-BR-89.
The fact that the claimant's automobile was not suitable to drive 100 miles round trip each day to work does not mean that the claimant was not meeting the requirements of Section 8-903. The claimant had access to three automobiles that she could use to get back and forth to work. Section 8-903 does not prescribe a mileage amount that a claimant must be able to drive in order to meet the requirements of the law. Sefcik v. Jowett, Inc., 2059-BR-93.
4. Effect of Relocation of Claimant
No disqualification can be imposed on a claimant who moves to a different locale while unemployed, even if there are fewer job opportunities in the new area. However, after such a move, a claimant must adjust the job search to suit the new area since the law specifically requires that the extent of the work search be considered in relation to the labor market conditions in the claimant's area. Bunjon v. Church Hospital, 71-BH-82.
D. Attendance at School
1. Limited Course of Study
A disqualification under Section 8-903 is inappropriate where the claimant is available for work during the normal work week and is unavailable for weekend work only because he is attending a training program to upgrade his job skills. Williams, 901-BR-83.
The claimant was able, available and actively seeking work under Section 8-903 since his attendance two hours per week in an educational program did not interfere with his ability to work or with his work search. Clasing, 95-BH-90.
A claimant attending school 3 days per week to learn the English language should not be disqualified for restricting his ability or availability to accept full-time employment. The claimant did not treat his schooling as a restriction regarding ability, availability and active search for work. This is supported by the fact that the claimant's work search resulted in full-time employment. Vladimir A. Kuzman, 00616-BR-99 (1999).
A full-time student who is seeking and has obtained full-time employment, may meet the requirements of being able and available for work, even when he has a full-time school schedule. Canneti, 977-BH-02.
2. Flexible Schedule
A claimant who, although attending school, continues to look for full-time work and would adjust her school schedule or give up school upon receiving permanent full-time work is able, available and actively seeking work. Drew-Winfield v. Patuxent Medical Group, 87-BH-87.
There is no reason to disqualify a claimant under the availability provisions when his part-time classes have been arranged to be flexible enough to change to accommodate any work schedule. Mallett, 1132-BR-92.
IV. Active Search for Work
A. Reasonable Search
1. In General
Where a claimant makes an honest and active search for work, no disqualification is imposed under Section 8-903. Nachand, 181-BH-84.
A claimant should obviously look for work in those fields in which he is most likely to obtain employment. Therefore, a claimant's search for work in the auto repair industry, in which he has past experience, was not a disqualifying limitation on his work search. Goldman v. Allen's Auto Supply, 1123-BR-82.
An additional search for work as a dispatcher, over and above a search for regular clerical work in the customary hours that clerical work is performed, does not disqualify a claimant under Section 8-903 even though the additional work is not sought at all hours the additional work is customarily performed. McDermott v. Macke Company, 1420-BH-82.
While Section 8-903 does not demand that a claimant look for work 24 hours per day, seven days per week, looking for work must be a claimant's primary activity. Where a claimant was immersed in her summer school studies, and limited job contacts to inquiries by telephone or through the newspaper, the claimant did not meet the eligibility requirements of Section 8-903. Poole, 145-BH-84.
See also, Section I.E. Temporary Agencies, this chapter.
2. Job Contacts Required
Section 8-903 does not specifically require that a claimant make personal job contacts, although that is the usual standard which is applied. The standard contained in the statute is whether the efforts an individual has made to obtain work have been reasonable and are such efforts as an unemployed individual is expected to make if he is honestly looking for work. Therefore, no disqualification is imposed on the claimant sprinkler fitter, who specializes in the fire protection industry and is a member of a trade union, where his job search consists of sending resumes and making telephone calls to employers who might need his services. The claimant's job search covered a wide and diverse geographical area. Smith, 684-BR-83.
During a particular week, the claimant made one job contact that resulted in a job offer. The claimant began negotiating with the prospective employer, and the claimant began full-time employment the following week. The claimant's pursuit of this job was a reasonable course of action more likely to bear fruit than making another job contact, and the claimant was actively seeking work under Section 8-903. Liller, 293-BR-91.
The claimant did not have a car and was therefore limiting her work search to places accessible by public transportation. A claimant should not be disqualified based solely on her lack of private transportation. Jones, 1197-BR-88.
A claimant cannot be penalized under Section 8-903 for the simple lack of an operating automobile when he is making efforts to find work in his town and was, in fact, available for work. Tzortzis, 382-BR-89.
4. Geographic Limitations
A claimant who made the required job contacts each week, but limited herself to her home area, was not unreasonably restricting her willingness to work where the type of job she sought was plentiful in the home area and the claimant had previously always found jobs there. However, if at some future point, the claimant runs out of employers in her home area, her restriction may become unreasonable. Stalfort, 509-BR-90.
In cases where the geographic area in which a claimant can search for work is limited by the fact that he does not own an automobile or have a driver's license, a claimant is not disqualified from benefits, provided he is making a reasonable and active search for work under the circumstances. Similar reasoning should be applied where the geographic limitations are the result of a documented medical condition that does not otherwise prevent the claimant from working full-time. Logan, 699-BR-93.
B. Contractual Agreement Not to Seek Work
An employer offering seasonal work cannot bind its employees to their jobs. Therefore, an employer's conditioning of continued employment on a school crossing guard's promise not to look for permanent work during the period of layoff is unreasonable and does not bind the Board in a Section 8-903 determination. Kirkner v. Baltimore County Police Department, 1104-BR-81.