In order for classified employees who do not work during the summer to be held ineligible for unemployment benefits, Unemployment Insurance Code (“Code”) section 1253.3 requires that districts send these employees a “letter of reasonable assurance” no later than 30 days prior to the last day of the academic year or term. The Code requires very specific language. The attached sample letters comply with Code requirements.
Letter No. 1 is a sample letter for classified employees who work less than 12 months.
Letter No. 2 is a sample letter for categorical, special, or federally-funded classified employees who work less than 12 months.
Letter No. 3 is a sample letter for classified substitutes to be used if the district has a classified substitute list.
It is generally not necessary to send letters of reasonable assurance to regular certificated or administrative employees because they are defined as “professional” employees with either explicit or implied contracts that serve as a reasonable assurance of re-employment.
Substitute teachers, particularly if they are on a list maintained by the district, do not have contracts and we recommend that they also be sent a letter of reasonable assurance no later than 30 days prior to the last day of school. Each district should send letters to the substitutes on their substitute list and not rely on the county office of education to produce letters of reasonable assurance on its behalf. If a county office of education also employs certificated substitutes for its own programs, those county offices of education should also send a notice of reasonable assurance to those substitutes.
Letter No. 4 is a sample letter to be used for substitute teachers who are on a substitute list.
Schools Operating “Year-Round”
Employees working at schools that operate on a year-round basis may be treated differently in terms of qualifying for benefits under Unemployment Insurance Code Section 1253.3. Substitute teachers and other qualifying school employees may be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits if they do not work during a district’s summer session, and the summer session constitutes a “regular term.” A “regular term” occurs if the summer session, as a whole, resembles the other academic terms of the school year in terms of enrollment, staffing, budget, instructional program, or other objective characteristics.
The California Supreme Court held that “if a school district with conventional fall and spring semesters also offers a two-week summer session with limited offerings and limited enrollment, the summer session would not be a ‘regular’ term. By contrast, if a school district offers a summer session that resembles the fall and spring semesters in terms of enrollment, staffing, budget, and the instructional program offered, then the summer session would qualify as a ‘regular’ term.” Id. If an employee files a claim for unemployment insurance benefits during the summer session, the district should be prepared to demonstrate that these factors differ between spring and summer terms.
If you question whether your district’s summer term meets the court’s description of a “regular term,” it is recommended that you issue the letter of reasonable assurance to qualified employees as a precaution.
If an employee receives a letter of reasonable assurance and later files a claim for unemployment insurance with the Employment Development Department (“EDD”), the district should be prepared to produce a copy of the letter of reasonable assurance given to that employee. We recommend scanning or saving a copy of every letter of reasonable assurance given to each employee so it can later be produced to EDD if necessary.
Districts should also be aware that if the economic terms and conditions of an employee’s work change significantly (more than 20% reduction in income) after the recess between school terms, the notice of reasonable assurance does not bar the employee from collecting unemployment insurance. For instance, if a summer layoff results in a reduction to a part-time position, the individual may be eligible for unemployment benefits.
Please contact our office with questions regarding this Legal Update or any other legal matter.
The information in this Legal Update is provided as a summary of law and is not intended as legal advice. Application of the law may vary depending on the particular facts and circumstances at issue. We, therefore, recommend that you consult legal counsel to advise you on how the law applies to your specific situation.
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 Unemployment Insurance Code Sec. 1253.3, subd. (h) refers to the “end of the academic year or term” not the last day of service for the employee.
 United Educators of San Francisco etc. v. California Unemployment Ins. Appeals Bd. (2020) 8 Cal.5th 805.