The California Employment Development Department determines unemployment benefit eligibility for applicants. Qualified applicants receive unemployment benefits if they are unemployed through no fault of their own. The California Unemployment Insurance Program provides benefits to unemployed and partially unemployed workers if they are not working without fault of their own. Unemployed workers who relocate may be eligible for unemployment benefits. However, unemployed workers who relocate before becoming eligible to receive unemployment benefits are generally unable to qualify for unemployment benefits.
California Unemployment Insurance Overview
The California Employment Development Department administers the state's unemployment insurance system pursuant to federal and state law. The department uses the "California Determination Guide" based on the California Unemployment Insurance Code and court decisions as a reference when establishing eligibility. Generally, applicants must be available for work, look for work and ready to accept appropriate employment offers to qualify for unemployment benefits.
California law makes a distinction between unemployed claimants who qualified for unemployment benefits before relocating and those who terminated employment because of relocation. Unemployed claimants qualify for continuing benefits if they relocate after they qualified for unemployment benefits under state and federal law. Pursuant to the Interstate Payment Benefit Plan, unemployed workers can relocate to look for other work. Unemployed claimants can continue receiving benefits from their home states after relocation. However, unemployed workers who voluntarily quit because of relocation are usually ineligible for unemployment benefits.
California Unemployment Insurance Code
An unemployed worker who moves to a new location and subsequently terminates employment does not qualify for unemployment benefits absent good cause. According to Section 1256, Title 22 of the California Unemployment Insurance Code, a claimant who moves far from his place of employment cannot use distance alone as a basis for quitting and qualifying for unemployment benefits. Absent a compelling reason, distance or travel time does not validate quitting for unemployment benefit purposes. However, distance may be a valid cause for quitting if a claimant pursued all other alternatives and moved for reasons beyond her control. For instance, if a claimant's spouse received relocation orders, the department may view that as good cause reason for termination.
Relocation for Illness
A claimant who terminates employment to relocate to his former state of residency does not have a good cause reason to terminate employment and is therefore ineligible for unemployment benefits. According to the California Labor Board, mere preference to return home is an insufficient reason to relocate for unemployment benefit purposes. However, if a claimant wanted to relocate back to his home state to take care of his ill mother who has no other living relatives, illness may be a good cause reason for relocation back to his home state.