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I was laid off for 'lack of work' earlier this week. About a day or so later I ended up accepting an employment offer from a large corporation. However, the issue is, I cannot start this job for six or more months due to going through an extensive background check process (aka security clearance). During this time I am not receiving any payment from the corporation.

The employment offer letter I accepted states: "We recommend that you not resign from current employment, if applicable, until the background verification is complete. Failure to satisfactorily complete or an unsatisfactory outcome on any of the contingencies may result in withdrawal of this employment offer."

Given that my employment with this company is contingent on passing a background verification that is going to last roughly six months, and my current job laid me off - am I eligible to file for unemployment benefits or not?

For reference I am located in Pennsylvania.

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    As answers say, yes but note this caveat... To claim benefits you often have to be available and looking and willing to accept work. That makes sense, if you're claiming the verification process takes 6 months, and you want benefits for that time, you have to be prepared to look for temp/perm work for that 6 months. (And consider if the offer vanished after 6 months, should you have done nothing but take a vacation on benefits cash, that time? What if validation took 2 years? Vacation again?) So you'll probably be expected to aim to find work. The exact terms of that search need checking
    – Stilez
    Apr 15, 2022 at 3:00
  • Having been through several background checks including a US government security clearance, 6 months is much longer than it should take. I know of only one case where a coworker's clearance took longer than 3 months. And in that case, he was hired on a contingent basis before he had the clearance he just worked on other things until he was cleared. If I were you I would explain your situation. If they cannot hire you on a contingent basis, I would continue to look for work and really consider other offers. You can always go to this job if it ever becomes a real offer with a real start date. Apr 16, 2022 at 22:46

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Yes

As far as unemployment is concerned, your "offer" is only a potential job, as it is not yet binding, and in any case for their purposes it does not count until you actually start paid work.

However, if you apply for unemployment you will be required to seek other appropriate work, probably a minimum of three contacts or applications per week. Should one of those offer employment, if you do not accept and do not have a good reason for refusing, you may lose your unemployment benefits. Of course, you could always accept such work and resign when and if you pass the background check, but that might look bad on your resume the next time you look for work, if that is any time soon.

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    I don't think it has to look bad on a CV necessarily. Given the situation, finding temporary work is better than sitting still. If OP worries about this, they could add an explanatory mark to the CV (e.g., label the work as "temporary work while waiting for security clearance for job X"). That could show resolve and improvisation skills, and it allows for an interesting conversation subject in an interview.
    – marcelm
    Apr 15, 2022 at 8:28
  • @marcelm That may well be, it is of course the OP's choice. I merely point out consequences of the legal rules that will follow an application for unemployment benefits. Resume screeners do not always take proper note of such indicators. Apr 15, 2022 at 14:45
  • @Faheem Mitha Thanks, correction made. Apr 15, 2022 at 20:50
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You are not currently employed

You have been laid off. Your new job will start in about 6 months if you complete that check. That is not unique but comparable to someone needing to undergo mandatory training first, and then employment is hinging on that training's final test. However, you are neither in training nor employed. You might, as a result, be eligible for unemployment benefits, if you otherwise qualify for them.

Qualifying for these benefits can come with obligations such as seriously trying to find work or taking serious work offers that span the gap of your unemployment.

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