Question: I work for a dentist. He plans to close the office for five to seven weeks to have shoulder surgery. Can I collect unemployment benefits during that time?

Answer: If you don't obtain work in the meantime, you may be able to receive unemployment benefits.

"It's a temporary lack of work," a New York State Department of Labor spokeswoman said. "She should be eligible."

If the good doctor didn't mention your possible entitlement to unemployment benefits, he was sorely amiss. Since he is depriving you of income, the least he could have done was to point you in the direction of some replacement money. For more information call the department's unemployment telephone claims center at 888-209-8124.

Q: I recently lost a job that I had for about seven years. I was paid with cash and got a W-2 and a 1099 at the end of the year. I used both to file my taxes. Can I collect unemployment based on the total of both the W-2 and 1099?

A: Your company may have committed some labor and tax law violations by classifying you as both an employee and independent contractor. But first to your question.

If you are eligible, you can collect unemployment based on your W-2 form because that indicates you are an employee, what you earned and how many hours you worked.

But the 1099 form, which is issued to independent contractors, is a whole different matter. Independent contractors aren't covered by labor laws and thus can't collect unemployment benefits. But you can't be legally classified as an employee and an independent contractor at the same time. So your company has likely violated labor laws.

The upshot for you is that you might have been improperly classified as an independent contractor, so those wages may count toward jobless benefits. The IRS has rules regarding employees, versus independent contractors. So an employer can't designate someone willy-nilly.

When you apply for unemployment benefits, the state labor department says, you should submit both forms. It will determine what your status rightfully is and what can be counted toward unemployment benefits.

Q: I work in a small dental office. Recently, my boss's wife, who does the payroll every other week, stopped giving us a pay stub. She said it was too much paperwork. Is this legal?

A: No, it's not legal. State law requires employers to provide employees with a wage statement each payday. And that statement must include such things a hours worked and deductions made. So when she doesn't issue you a pay stub, she is saving time but breaking the law. For more information call the Department of Labor's Division of Standards at 516-794-8195 or 212-775-3880.

(Carrie Mason-Draffen is the author of "151 Quick Ideas to Deal With Difficult People." She welcomes questions for the "Help Wanted" column. Contact her at 631-843-2450 or carrie.draffen@newsday.com.)

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