Employment Law -- Employee
New Jersey Unemployment Law
Unemployment compensation, also called unemployment insurance (U.I.), is a federal government program administered by the states in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Labor. It’s intended to provide qualified unemployed workers with financial and work search support.
This page gives an overview of New Jersey (N.J.) state unemployment law and links to more detailed articles to help you answer specific questions. Because the law is complicated, we suggest consulting an employment law expert in a city near you to get the best advice about your unique circumstances.
Unemployment Eligibility Requirements
Each state makes its own rules regarding unemployment eligibility and administration, so the N.J. unemployment insurance program may differ from other states. You can read more about general unemployment requirements here and the general unemployment process here.
In New Jersey, a worker must meet the following eligibility requirements to qualify for U.I. benefits:
- Be unemployed through no fault of their own.
- Must have met the minimum earnings requirement for a base period. The base period is 52-weeks consisting of the first four out of the last five completed calendar quarters before the week the worker files the initial claim. In 2022, the worker must have earned at least $240/week during 20 or more weeks or at least $12,000 total during the base period.
To continue receiving benefits, N.J. workers must certify weekly and meet the following requirements:
- Be able to work.
- Be actively seeking work.
- Be available for work.
- Not refuse an offer of suitable employment.
- Attend all scheduled appointments with the New Jersey Division of Unemployment Insurance.
A worker who is self-employed part-time while working a full-time job may be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits if they lose their full-time job through no fault of their own.
Eligibility rules can be confusing. The New Jersey Division of Unemployment Insurance website has several FAQs as well as the agency’s contact information to help claimants.
What if the Employee Quits?
In New Jersey, an employee who quits without “good cause connected with work” may have their unemployment claim denied. That means that an employee who quits is unlikely to qualify for U.I. benefits unless the employee left for a reason directly related to the job and the reason was so compelling they had no choice but to resign.
For example, a worker who quit because of “unsafe, unhealthful, or dangerous” working conditions that were so intolerable that they had “no choice but to leave employment” could be eligible for unemployment. So, a worker in Atlantic City who quits because the employer refuses to fix an unsafe working environment may be eligible for unemployment benefits.
Leaving a job for personal reasons, like moving out of the area, is a reason not connected with work and therefore not eligible for unemployment. However, a worker who quits for a personal reason could be eligible for unemployment in some circumstances. For example, a worker who resigns due to the transfer out of the state of a spouse/civil union partner on active military duty may be eligible for benefits.
What if I Get Fired?
A terminated individual is eligible for unemployment benefits only when they are not at fault for being fired. For example, an employee in Trenton fired for misconduct may not qualify for unemployment benefits.
What if I Am Laid Off?
A New Jersey worker laid off due to downsizing is eligible for unemployment benefits.
What Is the Weekly Benefit Amount?
Benefits in New Jersey are available to eligible workers for up to 26 weeks in one year. The state may extend the benefit period in certain circumstances.
The worker’s weekly benefit amount is called the weekly benefit rate (WBR). The WBR is 60% of the worker’s average weekly wage during the base year. The state determines the average weekly wage based on the gross salary information provided by the employer. For 2022, New Jersey’s maximum WBR is $804.
The worker has the choice to receive their benefit payments by either direct deposit or prepaid debit card.
The worker can also request a monetary review from the state if they believe the employer did not report the correct wages.
What Information Must the Employer Provide?
The employer is required to provide the following information about the employee’s employment to the state:
- Confirmation that the employer was required to pay unemployment insurance contributions on the employee’s wages.
- The reason for the employee’s separation.
- The employee’s last day of work.
- Whether the separation is temporary.
- The employee’s gross wages for each week during a specified period.
Are Unemployment Benefits Taxable?
New Jersey does not tax unemployment benefits, but they are subject to federal income tax. The state provides the worker with Form 1099-G reporting the unemployment benefits received and federal income tax withheld.
What Are My Options if New Jersey Denies My Application for Benefits?
New Jersey workers can appeal the state’s U.I. eligibility determination within seven calendar days after receiving the determination letter or ten calendar days of the determination letter’s mailing date. New Jersey accepts appeal applications either online or through the mail. So, someone in Newark who is denied benefits can submit an online appeal within seven days after receiving the determination letter.
After filing the appeal, the worker or their representative can present their case in an Appeal Tribunal hearing. The state notifies all interested parties of the hearing, including the former employer, if the hearing is related to the worker’s employment. The worker has the right to appeal further their case to the Board of Review if the Appeal Tribunal’s decision is not in favor of the employee.
The employer also has the right to appeal an adverse determination. If the employer wins its appeal, the worker may have to repay the unemployment insurance they have received.
If you need help with filing an appeal, it is wise to discuss your options with an employment lawyer.