How Long Do I Have to Work For to Collect Unemployment in New Jersey?

New Jersey defines an employer as having paid a minimum of $1,000 in wages during any year.

In order to qualify for unemployment insurance in New Jersey, you must have worked during a minimum of 20 weeks within the entire base period. During those 20 weeks, you must have earned at least $168 per week, totaling a minimum of $3,360 base period earnings.


You must have earned a minimum of $8,400 within the entire base period.

New Jersey offers alternate base periods for those who fail to qualify under the regular base period.

There are two possible ABP. If you still fail to qualify under the first ABP, then the second one will be applied to your claim to see if it will then qualify.

The first alternate base period considers the last four completed calendar quarters (instead of the first four).

The second alternate base period considers the last three completed calendar quarters as well as any wages earned in the weeks of the quarter in which the unemployment insurance claim is filed to the date of discharge.


  • Sandy

    When my company closed permanently, I was docked 6 weeks of unemployment because of the base week that was pulled in NJ. I requested they use the alternate base week but was denied because the base week they pulled from was “enough” to qualify me (with 6 weeks less of benefits).

    Someone (I believe incorrectly) at the office told me that one year after my claim (which would’ve been 5/2016) I’d be able to file for missing 6 weeks of unemployment. Is this true??? I don’t see how it is. But if I can collect on money I should have gotten in the first place I’ll try. But it doesn’t make sense to me how that is possible. If need to file a new claim on a job that ended 5/2016. That makes no sense to me.

    • You were given only partial information. You will be eligible for a new claim which would allow NJ to use those missing weeks of earnings (this is called your LAG) only if you have worked after 5/16 and had new earnings. You must earn six (6) times the previous claim’s weekly benefit rate and work at least four (4) weeks in covered employment to be eligible for benefits in a successive benefit year.

      NJ has three base periods – in your case (1) Jan-Dec. 2015; (2) Apr 2015-Mar 2016; or (3) July 2015-date of discharge in May 2016. Assuming NJ used base period #2, your new earnings and application for a new claim must take place before June 30th in order to use the Apr-May 2016 six-week LAG from the earlier claim.

  • Kelly Mathis

    My boyfriend is working for an Irrigation “company” that somehow has been in business for 25yrs. My boyfriend Mike IS THE ONLY WORKER! He was told at his interview he would be trained to repair existing systems. He was very excited to learn something new. He is 38 and had been a painter all his life. He was led to believe his boss Anthony had a few “crews” of Mexican workers. Mike is now working 11-13 hours a day Mon-Sat, gets no breaks, eats his lunch in the truck with his boss while they are on their way to another job. It’s just the boss Anthony and my boyfriend Mike working alone with a customer base of 500 people. Yesterday he looked Mike in the face and said, and I quote ” Mike you are the STUPIDEST PERSON AND I MEAN STUPIDEST PERSON I have ever met in my life.” He works Mike like a dog and when Mike finally gets home at 9pm his boss calls him with a list of customers to call, (YES CALL PEOPLE THAT LATE AT NIGHT) to schedule them for the next day. He is begging him to work on Sundays he keeps telling him no. This guy calls Mike names all the time and tests him like crap. I am on disability at 46yrs old and Mike was my caretaker, but we couldn’t make ends meet so Mike had to get a job. He explained out situation to Anthony at the interview and Anthony said it was fine. He wouldn’t have Mike start until 830a.m and would have him home by 6 it latest 630. But it’s his word against Mike. This is torture. He left yesterday morning at 730a.m and walked in at 815p.m last night. I missed 2 breathing treatments and medication doses. He has worked for him since the end of April. We need help or advice. No one should be allowed to treat someone this way. But financially we can’t live on my disability and he has no time to go on interviews. How long does he have to work before he can collect unemployment?

    • If he’s earned at least $3,900, he may qualify now. MA will take wages up to date of quit to qualify him. However, he won’t receive very much or for very long. Further, know that MA can take up to ten weeks or longer to approve a claim before it will pay benefits. If he quits, he needs to prove good cause for the quit. This often results in a long delay before finally receiving a denial and then a need to appeal. Process could easily take four months. Expect a very long wait in MA for benefits.

  • Ashley Rogers

    My boyfriend recently quit his job of 3 years (gave 2 weeks) to start a new job. He’s only worked there 3 weeks but now has been off due to weather. Is he allowed to collect unemployment?

    • NJ requires 8-weeks on the new job after a quit. However, if he can prove this new job offer was materially better than the one he quit, he may have a chance on appeal – but he will be initially denied. These denials are not cast in stone, but it will take about four-six weeks for NJ to hear the case. If he wins, he’ll get his benefits paid retro to the week he filed.

  • Gleice Rudelli

    I currently live in NJ having been working for this company for the past 2y, but now I need to move to another state (PR), my husband has been living there for the past due to work and would have to stay there 2 or 3 more years, we also have 2 kids, aged 6 and 3. Would I qualify?

    • NJ will pay trailing spouse benefits for military families only, if the move takes place within nine months of the transfer. NJ does not pay trailing spouse benefits for civilians.

  • Jonathan Ruts

    I belive I should qualify for unemployment because let me go for going to court. I gave them ample time and proof.

    • Because you are in NJ, you won’t be denied if you do not have a history of absenteeism. Instead, you will receive a simple misconduct of 8-wk disqualification from benefits. You can claim your first week of at the end of the 9th week from discharge.

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