Do I Have to Pay My Employee Unemployment Benefits in California?

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As an employer, you want to treat your employees right. At the same time, however, you are running your business, and you need to be concerned with your bottom line. That said, most employers in the state of California are required to pay employees unemployment benefits as long as the employee can prove they are unemployed due to no fault of their own. However, what if you fired your employee? Will you still have to pay them unemployment compensation? Please continue reading and reach out to our dedicated Los Angeles County, California employment attorney to learn more.

Am I required to pay my employee unemployment benefits even if I fired him?

In the state of California, when an employer lays an employee off in a manner unrelated to the employee’s conduct, the employer will likely have to pay unemployment benefits. For example, if an employer simply has too many workers for the amount of profit they’re bringing in and has to downsize, the employee they lay off likely can collect unemployment. In some cases, an employee may even collect unemployment if he or she was fired due to lacking certain skills or even just not being a great fit with a company.

However, if you fired your employee for cause, meaning you fired the employee because of misconduct, you shouldn’t have to pay them unemployment benefits, and if they apply for them, you absolutely have a right to deny those benefits. You should also note that if the employee in question quit, he or she does not have a right to collect unemployment benefits.

That said, to deny an employee unemployment benefits in the state of California, you, the employer, will be required to prove several things. They are as follows:

  • The employee owed you a “material” duty, meaning the employee had a job to do for you.
  • The employee substantially breached that duty.
  • The breach of duty was conducted willfully or wantonly, meaning the employee intentionally breached the duty they owed you, the employer.
  • The breach of duty led to or could have reasonably led to your business sustaining damages.

As long as you can prove these points, you should be able to successfully deny your employee unemployment benefits. If you need any help through this process or would like further clarification, please don’t hesitate to speak with the seasoned legal team right here at the Lee Law Offices. We are on your side, and we are here to protect your business at every turn.