Unemployment benefit – what are you entitled to?

The loss of a job puts a huge strain on our lives, not only psychologically, but also materially and financially. How should one proceed to reduce the impact of unemployment as much as possible, what is one entitled to in such a situation, and how much support can one expect in 2024?

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Register with the Job Centre

Don’t delay in registering with the Job Centre for several reasons. You will have the (justified) feeling that you are doing something and not just letting things go, you will increase your chances of finding a new job from day one, and most importantly: you will not be completely destitute.

Head to the job centre where you live, preferably within three days of your last job. Firstly, you will be registered in the job database from the first day you are unemployed and, more importantly, the state will pay for your health insurance.

You may be entitled to severance pay from your former job and think that visiting the job centre is pointless if you have some money. But don’t be fooled. It is true that you will not get any benefits for the time you are paid severance pay, but at least the state will pay for your health insurance again during this time.

You can also go to the employment office if you worked under an IČO under a shvarcsystem and your cooperation with your “employer” has ended, or if your business as a self-employed person failed and you quit. You will also be entitled to unemployment benefits, but you must of course stop or at least suspend your trade. Otherwise you will not get unemployment benefits.

Were you wrongfully terminated at work, or should you have been entitled to severance pay and didn't get it?

We can help you defend yourself against your former employer. We’ll make sure you get everything you’re entitled to in the event of termination.

Who is eligible for support?

Only jobseekers are eligible. You are eligible if you apply in person for a suitable job at the regional office of the Labour Office in whose administrative district you live and you meet the conditions for inclusion in the register of jobseekers. In particular, you are not currently in any employment relationship. Any form of employment is a major obstacle to receiving support. The only exceptions to this are working or working for a housing association outside of an employment relationship or running a housing association.

However, there may be situations where you are registered as a jobseeker but for some reason you do not qualify for unemployment benefit for the reasons set out below (or lose it if you are long-term unemployed). In this case, you may be employed in a so-called non-colluding job. This is a job, or even a part-time job, where the wage does not exceed half the minimum wage. This is set at CZK 9 450 for 2024. This is a gross wage.

It is necessary tonotify the Labour Office of the performance of the non-colliding employment, no later than on the day of commencement. If you earn more than CZK 9,450 in non-colluding employment, you will be removed from the register of applicants. You will also be excluded if you are found to be working illegally.

Tip. Are you looking for flexible short-term work and wondering what legal form is suitable for it? An easy way to arrange such short-term work is to enter into one of two types of employment agreements. For example, a work performance agreement. What to look out for when entering into one and what are its advantages? This is the focus of our article.

Conditions for entitlement to the benefit

To qualify for unemployment benefits, you must meet several conditions:

  1. You have had at least 12 months of paid pension contributions in the last two years. However, the necessary period of insurance is not only acquired through employment, but also, for example, through caring for a child under four, receiving a third degree disability pension, community service of more than 20 hours a week, caring for people with various degrees of dependence, or long-term voluntary service.
  2. You have filled in an Application for Job Placement and applied for support at the regional employment office.
  3. You are not in receipt of an old-age pension or currently in any employment relationship at the date the support is granted.
  4. You are a permanent resident of the Czech Republic.

The application can be submitted either in person at the Labour Office, by post (registered letter) or electronically – via data box or e-mail with a certified signature.

Amount of support

The amount of unemployment benefit is determined as a percentage of the applicant’s average monthly net earnings from the last job, calculated on a monthly basis. The percentage rate is:

  • 65 % for the first 2 months
  • for the next 2 months 50 %
  • the remaining sub-assistance period (varies according to age and can be up to 7 months) 45 %, which is the minimum possible rate.

However, the method of termination is also important: if the applicant left his/her last job without good reason, either by himself/herself or by agreement with the employer, the rate of support is only 45% for the whole of the support period. Serious reasons include, for example, personal care for a child under the age of four, care for another dependent, or the child’s attendance at school or nursery. In addition, immediate termination of employment by the employee (for example, because the employer fails to pay wages).

Tip: As mentioned above, if you were previously self-employed, you may also be entitled to unemployment benefits. The period and the percentage for calculation remain the same as for former employees, only the amount is calculated on the so-called assessment base. This depends on the amount of pension contributions paid. If you were self-employed and paid only the minimum pension contributions, your monthly assessment base (in 2024) would be CZK 13,191.

Unemployment benefits in 2024

As we have already mentioned, although the amount of unemployment benefit is based on your current earnings, there is a ceiling. This is based on the minimum subsistence level.

The maximum monthly unemployment benefit is 58% of the average wage set by the MLSA. In 2024, the maximum unemployment benefit is CZK 24 608.

Exceptions to unemployment benefit

Jobseekers are not entitled to unemployment benefit:

  • with whom the employment relationship has been terminated in the last six months prior to being entered in the register due to a particularly serious breach of employment obligations. If this situation arises, we recommend that you try to arrange with your employer to terminate the employment relationship by written agreement, in which case you will be entitled to the benefit even if you receive only the lowest rate.
  • who is entitled to a retirement allowance that is higher than the allowance (e.g. a professional soldier, police officer, firefighter, etc…).
  • who is in non-colluding employment on the date the benefit is due. He must therefore stop it if he wants to receive the allowance. As stated above, no additional earnings are possible.

Support period

The period of unemployment benefit is referred to as the ‘sub-support period’. It depends on the age at the date of application and is for a jobseeker

  • up to 50 years → 5 months
  • over 50-55 years → 8 months
  • over 55 years → 11 months

The reason for giving older applicants an advantage is that it can be much harder for them to find a job.

Entitlement to the benefit ends when the support period expires (but a person can continue to be registered as a jobseeker, but this is not mutually exclusive), when the registration ends, or when the person is removed from the register, for example if he or she fails to attend an appointment at the Job Centre without good reason or does not take up a suitable job offered to him or her.

If you fail to get a job during the support period, you may still be on the register of jobseekers, have your health insurance paid for and may be able to get one of the social benefits. These include housing benefit, subsistence allowance, housing benefit or emergency aid.

Tip: Read when you can be removed from the Job Centre and what the consequences are.

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Author of the article

JUDr. Ondřej Preuss, Ph.D.

Ondřej is the attorney who came up with the idea of providing legal services online. He's been earning his living through legal services for more than 10 years. He especially likes to help clients who may have given up hope in solving their legal issues at work, for example with real estate transfers or copyright licenses.

  • Law, Ph.D, Pf UK in Prague
  • Law, L’université Nancy-II, Nancy
  • Law, Master’s degree (Mgr.), Pf UK in Prague
  • International Territorial Studies (Bc.), FSV UK in Prague

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