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

If these criteria are met, and once a claim is approved, you can receive up to $450 per week for up to 26 weeks while you seek new employment. Collecting unemployment may be harder if you were fired for misconduct, however. 

What is Unemployment?

The Unemployment Insurance (UI) program in California provides monetary compensation to unemployed or underemployed workers. To receive UI benefits, you must file a claim and 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 is that you are out of work “through no fault of their own.” The most common reasons to collect unemployment are:

  • Layoffs: If your employer has downsized the company, you are eligible for UI benefits.
  • Firing: 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.
  • Quitting: When you quit your job you usually aren’t 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 is necessary to show that an effort to correct the issues was made. However, there are situations where a person who quits will likely receive UI. It can happen in cases where a job was left due to health reasons or domestic violence. In these particular scenarios, you will probably have been found to have reasonable cause to quit.

How to 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 earning. This 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 in the highest quarter (3-month term) of their base period, or at least $900 in the highest quarter and total base period earnings of 1.25 times their highest quarter earnings. 

If you believe you have met these criteria 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 employee 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 job. During this process, it is essential that you keep records of employers 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 them 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 are 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. 

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