The short answer is yes. You can potentially receive unemployment in California if you’ve quit your job. However, the Employment Development Department (EDD) criteria set out some conditions that must be met to obtain these benefits.

If these criteria are met, and the claim is approved, you can receive up to $450 per week for up to 26 weeks while you seek new employment. On the other hand, collecting unemployment might be more difficult if you were fired for misconduct.

What is unemployment?

The Unemployment Insurance (UI) program in California provides monetary compensation to unemployed or underemployed workers. To receive UI benefits, you must first file a claim and then meet specified requirements. These eligibility requirements must be met weekly to continue to receive the benefits.

Reasons to collect unemployment in California

There are several reasons you may be able to collect unemployment in California. The general requirement an individual must meet is that they are out of work “through no fault of their own.”

The most common reasons to collect unemployment are:


If your employer has downsized the company, you are eligible for UI benefits.


If you were fired as a result of being unable to do the job or were not a fit with the company you will most likely be able to receive unemployment insurance.

However, if you were fired for misconduct, you may not receive benefits. Misconduct, in this case, is determined if these four areas are met:

  • You owe a “material” duty* to the employer
  • You substantially breached that duty
  • Your breach of duty was a wanton or willful act, intentionally violating the duty
  • The breach of duty harmed the employer’s business interests

* Note: What is “material” duty?

Material duties are tasks that must be done as part of an occupation


When you quit your job you are usually not eligible for unemployment benefits—unless you have good cause for quitting. Good cause includes the following reasons:

  • Discrimination
  • Unsafe working conditions
  • Fraud

To receive benefits in these conditions it’s necessary to show that an effort to correct the issues was made. However, there are situations when a person who quits will likely receive Unemployment Insurance (UI). This can happen in cases when a job was left due to health reasons or domestic violence. In these particular scenarios, it will probably be determined that you had reasonable cause to quit.

How do I qualify for unemployment in California?

In California, you must meet the general criteria to apply to be eligible for UI. You must be:

  • Unemployed through no fault of your own (see above)
  • Able to work and actively seeking employment
  • Meet certain thresholds on past earnings

This last point is based on a 12-month base period. The past earnings requirement will be used to determine how much your weekly UI benefit will be. For a claim to be accepted you must have either earned at least $1,300.00 in the highest quarter (3-month term) of your base period, or at least $900.00 in the highest quarter and total base period earnings of 1.25 times your highest quarter earnings.

If you believe you have met these conditions you can file a claim by calling the EDD or visiting their website. After you file a claim, the EDD will conduct an interview with you and your former employer approximately two weeks after the filing.

What is Availability to Work?

While unemployed you must make a reasonable effort to find gainful employment. This involves actively looking for a new job. During this process, it’s essential that you keep records of employers that you’ve contacted and the outcomes of those interactions. The EDD may ask to see these records to verify benefits.

What happens when a UI claim is denied?

When an unemployment claim is denied, you will receive a Notice of Determination informing you of the decision. This decision can be appealed within 20 days. After the request is received, the EDD will schedule a hearing to determine the outcome.

If you’re not satisfied with the appeal you can continue the appeals process with the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board. If that decision needs to be appealed, the next step is to go to court.


Because California is an “at-will” employment state (employers are free to terminate employees at any time) employees think that they have no rights. Nothing could be further from the truth. Learn more about your employee rights. Contact us today.

Lawyers for Employee and Consumer Rights (LFECR) is a leading California employment law firm. With more than forty remote attorneys, LFECR is prepared to work on behalf of their clients anywhere in California.

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