California’s Unemployment Insurance program is not just for individuals completely out of work.  Even employed individuals can be “unemployed” for purposes of obtaining UI benefits.  Obtaining UI benefits while still employed is helpful when someone experiences a reduction in their hours or has been thrust into part-time work and have been unable to find additional work. Under these circumstances, an employed individual may be eligible for UI Benefits. Where the reduction in hours is so severe that the employee is suffering hardship, he or she may be justified in resigning and claiming full UI benefits.

Reduced Unemployment Benefits

In California, an individual may obtain reduced unemployment benefits when they work part-time hours. Here, an employed individual is classified as unemployed, for purposes of obtaining reduced UI benefits.  An individual becomes entitled to reduced UI benefits during any week in which the individual’s regular wages, less the smaller of either $25 or 25% of those wages, is less than he or she would have obtained as their weekly unemployment benefit, had they been completely out of work. California Unemployment Insurance Code § 1252.  If the final amount is equal to or exceeds the individual’s weekly benefit amount, then the individual is not eligible for reduced unemployment benefits.  California Unemployment Insurance Code § 1279.

For example, where an individual’s weekly benefit amount is calculated to be $450 per week.  After suffering a reduction in hours, the individual only works ten hours a week at a rate of $15 per hour.  The individual would be entitled to a UI benefit of $325 per week.  $15 x 10 hours = $150.  Smaller of either: $25 or $150 x 25% = $37.50.  $450 – ($150-$25) = $325.

Individuals who experience dramatic reductions in their total hours worked often qualify for reduced unemployment benefits.  An individual earning a wage for their full-time work cannot become eligible for reduced unemployment benefits.  California Unemployment Insurance Code § 1252(a).  However, an exception exists for individuals working full-time as a juror or witness under a subpoena.  California Unemployment Insurance Code § 1252(a)(4).

Please note that where an individual voluntarily reduces their work hours, they will not be eligible for reduced UI benefits in California.  For example, reduced unemployment benefits will not be distributed to an individual who works less to return to school.  Similarly, an individual who works on a reduced schedule to provide child or elder caregiving will not become eligible for reduced UI benefits.  Additionally, an individual who resigns from their full-time job and acquires a part-time position will not become eligible for reduced UI benefits in California.  Generally, the reduction in work must be through no fault of the employee.

Under certain select circumstances, an individual who suffers a reduction in work hours may be justified in quitting and collecting full unemployment benefits.  To remain eligible for unemployment insurance, the individual must prove that they cannot afford to stay at the job, and thus had good cause in resigning.  Here, EDD will find the employee to have become involuntarily unemployed.  Before leaving, the employee must inquire about additional hours or full-time employment.  If the employer must refuse to honor the request, the employee is likely justified in resigning.  When applying for benefits, the employee must cite to the material change in terms of his or her employment created a hardship for continued employment.

Please contact Astanehe Law prior to resigning based on hardship.  Each case is unique, and EDD may initially deny your request for UI benefits, which means you will be forced to appeal.  To increase your chances of successfully obtaining UI benefits without delay, contact Astanehe Law immediately for your consultation.  Our experienced attorneys will help you determine your likelihood of success.

Partial Unemployment Benefits

Individuals who suffer a temporary layoff or a temporary work reduction may be eligible for UI benefits in California under the California Partial Benefit Program.  The Program was created for employers who wish to retain their employees, despite a current lack of work.  Here, the employer and employee complete a Notice of Reduced Earnings form.  This Program provides employees with partial unemployment benefits.  Notably, the employee need not show that he or she is able and available to work and looking for other work to receive benefits through this Program.  The rationale is that the relief is only temporary since the employer expects to have work for the employee.

Work Sharing

California’s EDD offers a Work Sharing program, which applies to employers reducing more than 10% of their workforce’s wages or hours.  Employers value the program since it allows them to retain trained employees until business conditions improve.  The program is intended to be an alternative to instituting layoffs.

Under the Work Sharing program, employers can submit a Work Sharing plan to EDD.  Once approved, employees affected by reduced wages or hours become eligible to earn a prorated share of their weekly unemployment benefit.  Additionally, the employee often continues receiving health and retirement benefits.

This program is optionial and initiated at the employer’s election.  It is not mandatory.

If an employee participating in a Work Sharing program gets laid off, they will be converted from a Work Sharing UI claimant to a regular UI claimant.

Click here for more information about California’s Unemployment Insurance Program.

Have questions about California Unemployment Insurance? Wondering if you qualify for partial UI benefits? Contact Astanehe Law today for your consultation. One of our attorneys can assist you with your California Unemployment legal issue. P: (415) 226-7170 || E: