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Unemployment Insurance Overview

California’s UI program provides payments to workers who’ve lost their jobs or had their hours reduced, and who meet the program’s eligibility requirements. In the recent past, UI eligibility required that the displaced worker be:

  • Totally or partially unemployed.
  • Unemployed through no fault of their own.
  • Physically able to work.
  • Available for work.
  • Ready and willing to accept work immediately.
  • Actively looking for work each week benefits are claimed.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting “stay at home” orders, however, the California Employment Development Department (EDD) has temporarily eliminated two major eligibility requirements:

  • Individuals aren’t required to actively look for work during the COVID-19 pandemic; and
  • For claims beginning on January 19, 2020, or later, the seven-day waiting period required to receive UI benefits is waived.

Applying for UI Benefits

Employers should consider assisting their displaced workers by offering information on how to apply for UI benefits. If you’re fortunate enough to resume business-as-usual when the economy opens up, your returning employees likely will appreciate the assistance you provided when their cards were down.

To apply for benefits, individuals will need to provide their personal information and:

  • Last employer information including company name, supervisor’s name, address (mailing and physical location) and phone number.
  • Last date worked and the reason they’re no longer working.
  • Gross earnings in the last week they worked, beginning with Sunday and ending with their last day of work.
  • Information on all employers they worked for during the past 18 months, including name, address (mailing and physical location), dates of employment, gross wages earned, hours worked per week, hourly rate of pay and the reason they’re no longer working.
  • Notice to Federal Employees About Unemployment Insurance, Standard Form 8 (former federal employees only).
  • DD 214 Member 4 copy (ex-military only).
  • Citizenship status, and, if they’re not U.S. citizens, information from their employment authorization documents.

There are three ways to file a UI claim:

Online: This is the fastest way to have a claim accepted and begin receiving benefits. Displaced workers can visit the EDD’s UI Online page and apply during the following times:

  • Sunday: 5 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
  • Monday: 4 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Tuesday through Friday: 2 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Saturday: 2 a.m. through 8 p.m.

By phone: Individuals can reach an EDD representative Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., though wait times may be long due to extremely high traffic.

  • English: 800-300-5616
  • Spanish: 800-326-8937
  • Cantonese: 800-547-3506
  • Mandarin: 866-303-0706
  • Vietnamese: 800-547-2058
  • TTY: 800-815-9387

By mail or fax: Applicants fill out one of the following forms, then mail or fax the form to the location provided on the last page of each form:

Responding to UI Claims

When an employee files a claim for UI benefits, employers will receive a Notice of Unemployment Insurance Claim Filed from the EDD. Employers should respond with 10 days. Failure to timely respond waives the right to appeal the EDD’s eligibility determination.

After a timely response, the employer will receive a Notice of Determination/Ruling, advising the employer of the EDD’s eligibility decision. Employer have the right to appeal the EDD’s decision if they disagree.

When responding to EDD notices, ensure that any reason given for the separation from employment is accurate, well-documented and consistently explained.