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                         Unemployment Benefits

                                                                                           Overview

If an employee is out of work or have had their hours reduced, they may be eligible to receive unemployment benefits. To receive unemployment benefits, the individual must meet all eligibility requirements when applying and when certifying for benefits. When applying for unemployment benefits, an individual must:

  • Have earned enough wages during the base period.

  • Be totally or partially unemployed.

  • Be unemployed through no fault of their own.

  • Be physically able to work.

  • Be available for work.

  • Be ready and willing to accept work immediately.


If a person believes they are misclassified as an independent contractor, they are encouraged to apply for benefits, and EDD will determine their eligibility.


A base period is a specific 12-month term the EDD uses to see if a person earned enough wages to establish a claim. To learn how EDD determines a person's base period, review How Unemployment Benefits are Computed (DE 8714AB) (PDF).


A person's weekly benefit amount (WBA) ranges from $40 to $450. To get an estimate of what one will receive, use the unemployment benefit calculator on EDD's website.

If a person is not eligible for unemployment, they may be eligible for Disability Insurance, Paid Family Leave, or Nonindustrial Disability Insurance.

                                                                                                       Common FAQ:


Q: If a California employee is terminated or quits their job, are they entitled to collect unemployment benefits?
A: Generally, yes, but it depends. To receive California Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefit payments, employees must meet all eligibility requirements when filing a claim and when certifying for benefits. The employee must have earned enough wages during the base period to establish a claim (a base period is a specific 12-month term the EDD uses to see if you earned enough wages to establish a UI claim), and be:

  • Totally or partially unemployed.

  • Unemployed through no fault of your own.

  • Physically able to work.

  • Available for work.

  • Ready and willing to accept work immediately.

  • Actively looking for work.


Q: How does a person establish they are actively looking for work?

A:  To be eligible for benefits, most people are required to conduct a reasonable effort to search for suitable work. EDD advises persons to keep a record of their work search dates and employer contact information for future use and potential eligibility interviews.

Q:  If an employee quits their job, are they eligible for UI benefits?

A: If an employee quits their job, they must show that there was good cause for leaving, and that they made all reasonable attempts to keep their job (such as requested a leave of absence or transfer).  Note that good cause can include unsafe working conditions, a medical doctor’s advice, or protecting oneself or one's child from domestic violence.

Q:  If an employee is fired, are they eligible for UI benefits?

A:  Employees who are fired can still collect UI benefits unless the employers can prove they were fired due to “misconduct.”

Q:  What if I lost my job and cannot work because of a disaster?

A: If a person is unemployed due to a disaster, you may be eligible for UI benefits or Disaster Unemployment Assistance.


Q:  Can I attend school or training and receive UI benefits?

A:  If a person is qualified, the California Training Benefits (CTB) program allows individuals to continue receiving benefits while in training that is approved by the EDD. If a person attends school or training and are not eligible for the CTB program, they may still qualify for UI benefits if they continue to be available for work and actively seek work.


Q:  If a person is sick or injured, and cannot work, are they eligible for UI benefits?

A:  Individuals are not eligible for UI benefits if they are sick or injured, but may be eligible for Disability Insurance benefits.


Q:  If  a person is taking care of a seriously ill family member or bonding with a new child, and cannot work, are they eligible for UI benefits?

A:  If a person is caring for a family member or bonding with a new child, you can file a claim for California’s Paid Family Leave (PFL) benefits. Caring for a new child includes the birth of a child, adoption, or foster care placement.

Note that one cannot receive PFL benefits for the same period of time they receive UI or Disability Insurance benefits.


Q:  How does vacation pay or holiday pay affect someone's eligibility to receive UI benefits?

A:  If a person were given a definite return-to-work date at the time they were laid off, EDD may deduct vacation or holiday pay from their benefits.

  • If a person was not given a definite return-to-work date, any vacation or holiday pay they receive when their job ends is not deducted from their weekly benefit amount.

  • If a person is given a definite return-to-work date, any vacation or holiday pay for the period of the temporary layoff is deducted from their benefits. EDD will allocate their vacation and holiday pay as follows:

    • Vacation pay will be allocated to match the number of days they requested vacation, or the number of days the employer required them to use as vacation during the temporary layoff.

    • Holiday pay that is paid before they return to work will be allocated to match the holiday weeks. Holiday pay that is paid after they return to work will be allocated to match the week that they return to work.


Q:  If someone receives a Notice of Determination (DE 1080CZ) and they are not eligible for benefits, what should they do?

A: A person has the right to file an appeal if they do not agree with all or part of EDD's decision.

Q:  If a person is not a US citizen, can they collect UI benefits?

A:  To collect UI benefits, a person must show that they were in satisfactory immigration status and authorized to work in the United States when earning the wages they used to establish their claim.  The person must also give proof that they are currently in satisfactory immigration status, and are authorized to work each week that they claim benefits. Note that EDD verifies immigration status and work authorization through the Department of Homeland Security.


Q:  Are UI benefits deductions from employees wages?

A:  UI benefits are paid for by employer taxes. No deductions are taken from employees wages.


If you have any further questions or need additional information about unemployment insurance benefits, please contact me for a FREE confidential consultation at (916) 333-4653 or Stephen_Fiegel_ESQ@comcast.net.

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