By Carrie Mason-Draffen

Mason-Draffen, a business reporter, writes a column about workplace issues.

DEAR CARRIE: I have gotten conflicting information regarding a corporate transfer out of state and unemployment benefits for a “trailing spouse, ” or an employee who quits a job to relocate with a transferred spouse. Does it matter whether the transferred spouse requested the move or if the company required it?

— Leaving New York

DEAR LEAVING: It shouldn’t make a difference who made the request if the trailing spouse is otherwise eligible for jobless benefits, a local employment attorney said.

“Based on the question presented, whether the transferring spouse was forced or volunteered to be transferred out of state makes no difference,” said Christine Malafi, a partner at Campolo, Middleton & McCormick in Ronkonkoma. “And the trailing spouse who immediately follows will likely qualify for NYS unemployment benefits.”

Under New York law, a trailing spouse may even qualify for benefits if he or she quits a job to move with an unemployed spouse who found work in a different locality, Malafi said.

But a trailing spouse doesn’t always qualify for unemployment benefits, she said. For example, if a spouse waits too long to follow, or if he or she quits a job to follow a spouse to college or to move with a retired spouse, he or she may not qualify for unemployment benefits, Malafi said.

When a transfer requires a move out of New York State, the trailing spouse must make a claim for unemployment benefits in the new state, she said.

The new state will most likely be entitled to reimbursement from New York State for any unemployment benefits paid, Malafi said.

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