FILING FOR AND COLLECTING UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS IN CALIFORNIA
Unemployment benefits in California, if you are a California worker and were laid off due to the coronavirus pandemic or for any other reason, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits.
In California, as in any other state, employees who are temporarily out of work through no fault of their own may qualify for unemployment benefits. But, eligibility rules, earnings requirements, benefit amounts and other details vary from state to state.
Here are the basic rules for collecting unemployment compensation in the state of California. There, the agency that handles unemployment benefits is called the Employment Development Department (EDD).
ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS FOR CALIFORNIA UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS
You must meet these eligibility requirements to collect unemployment benefits in California:
Your past earnings must meet certain minimum thresholds.
You must be unemployed through no fault of your own, as defined by California law.
You must be able, available, and actively seeking work.
DO YOU MEET THE MINIMUM INCOME REQUIREMENT?
Almost all states look at your recent work history and earnings over a one-year base period to determine your eligibility for unemployment. In California, this base period is usually the first of four full calendar quarters before you file your claim for benefits.
During the base period, you must have earned at least $1,300 in your highest paid quarter, or $900 in your highest paid quarter and, during the entire base period, at least 1.25 times your highest quarter earnings.
ARE YOU OUT OF WORK THROUGH NO FAULT OF YOUR OWN?
You must be out of work through no fault of your own to qualify for unemployment benefits.
COLLECTING UNEMPLOYMENT AFTER A LAYOFF
If you are laid off, lose your job in a reduction-in-force (RIF) or “downsize” for economic reasons, you will meet this requirement.
COLLECTING UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS AFTER BEING LAID OFF
If you are fired because you lacked the skills to perform the job or were simply not a good fit, you should be able to collect benefits. But, if you are fired for misconduct, you will not be eligible for unemployment benefits. You owed a “material” duty to the employer. This means a duty that is properly part of the job (this can be, for example, reporting to work and performing your job duties).
If you substantially breached this duty, either a minor transgression or a one-time transgression is not enough to disqualify you from receiving benefits.
If your breach of duty showed a willful or deliberate disregard for that duty. In other words, not only were you careless or thoughtless, but you intentionally violated the duty or showed reckless disregard for the consequences of your breach of duty. Inefficiency, inability to perform the work, or good faith errors of judgment do not meet the standard and will not make you ineligible for unemployment benefits in the state of California.
Your breach of duty must tend to harm the employer’s business interests.
COLLECTING UNEMPLOYMENT AFTER QUITTING
If you quit your job, you will not be eligible for unemployment benefits unless you have good cause for quitting, which means that a reasonable person who really wanted a job would have left under the same circumstances. If you had good cause related to your job (such as unlawful discrimination, harassment, unsafe working conditions, or fraud by your employer), you will be eligible for unemployment benefits. In this situation, you must have taken reasonable steps to resolve the situation before you quit, which means you must have discussed the problem with your employer and allowed a reasonable amount of time for the employer to resolve the situation before you decided to quit.
If you left your job for family or compelling health reasons, you probably have good cause to have quit and will be eligible for unemployment benefits.
ARE YOU AVAILABLE AND ACTIVELY LOOKING FOR WORK?
In order to maintain your eligibility for unemployment benefits, you must be able to work, be available to accept and look for work. If you are offered a suitable position, you must accept it.
Generally, you must conduct a reasonable search for work and that you have done so. You must keep records of the employers you contacted, the dates they contacted you, and the result obtained.