Learn About Your California Unemployment Rights

Understanding your unemployment rights under California law can help you with getting your benefits and keeping them as well as what is expected of you while you are receiving them. Here’s what you need to know.

Qualifying for Unemployment

Anyone who is applying for unemployment benefits in California must meet certain requirements.

  • Earned the required wages within the base period
  • Be unemployed (partially or totally)
  • Were not at fault for becoming unemployed
  • Are physically able to work in some capacity
  • Are available to work
  • Are willing to immediately accept work

You must continue to meet these requirements not only while applying for benefits, but also when you certify for your benefits. Certification is done every two weeks and you must answer several basic questions that show you remain unemployed, that you are looking for work, and that you meet the requirements. Answering any of the questions incorrectly could result in your payment being delayed.

Once approved for unemployment, the weekly benefit amount is between $40 and $450, based on previous earnings during the base period.

What Disqualifies You from Unemployment Benefits in California?

Failure to meet the requirements for receiving unemployment benefits when applying and any time you certify can result in denial of benefits. Whether you quit or your employer fired you does play a part in your qualification. Just because you quit does not automatically disqualify you from benefits. Just as being fired does not automatically guarantee approval.

Working and trying to claim benefits is also a quick way to get disqualified, even if you are paid in cash. Suppose you get caught trying to circumvent the system. In that case, you likely will have your benefits terminated and face legal issues. However, if you are in the San Diego area and feel that your benefits were terminated unfairly, you should call an employee rights attorney in San Diego and get legal help.

Can You Quit Your Job and Get Unemployment?

Fired employees typically qualify for benefits unless their termination was for misconduct. Employees who quit may also be able to collect benefits but they have to show that they had a good reason to quit. These can include:

  • Discrimination (disability, rage, gender, etc.)
  • Significant reduction in pay or work hours
  • Unusual job stress beyond what is normal
  • Harassment, mobbing, bullying
  • Employer failure to comply with reasonable accommodation request for disability
  • Unsafe or unhealthy work environment

The key is that you quit your job for a good reason. For example, you are not likely to receive unemployment if quit solely because you were passed over for a promotion or you can’t stand the manager. But if you resigned because the reason you were passed over for that promotion was due to your age or gender then you should file a claim for unemployment and tell them the reason you quit was due to discrimination. However, if you are in the San Diego area and feel that you were treated unfairly, you should call an employee rights attorney in and get legal help.

How Long Can You Be Unemployed in California?

Once you apply, processing the claim can take up to three weeks. The benefits are provided on a debit card that is mailed to the recipient once the claim is approved. All benefit programs through the State of California Employment Development Department will use that same card.

Once you receive your debit card, you must activate it. You use the card like a regular debit card, such as making purchases, transferring money to your bank accounts, and tracking your payments and usage. The card is valid for three years from the issue date. 

Can You Refuse a Job Offer While on Unemployment?

If you receive a job offer while receiving benefits, refusing the offer may result in a denial of benefits unless you can show good cause to reject it. There are several reasons that a job offer may not be suitable work for you. If it is beyond your physical or intellectual capabilities, is against your moral or religious beliefs, or prevents you from providing necessary care for a child, relative, or friend, those reasons may be valid reasons for rejecting a job offer.

If you are having trouble getting your unemployment benefits, you may need legal representation. Call today and get an unemployment lawyer in California so that your rights can be protected and you can get the benefits you deserve.

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