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Can you claim unemployment if you are sick? (Everything you need to know about unemployment and sickness benefits)

Can you claim unemployment if you are sick? (Everything you need to know about unemployment and sickness benefits)

You cannot claim unemployment if you cannot work due to illness. Unemployment claims target those who are available for work but have not yet secured a job or are caring for ill family members or bonding with a new child.

Employers should have a provision for paid sick leave. Although such leaves are for a limited time, employers are obligated to make a provision for a paid sick leave. Additionally, family and medical leave should be available when paid sick leave is not an option. Therefore, you cannot claim unemployment when out of work due to illness.

Leave of absence due to Covid-19

Executive order 2020-24(2) made a provision for individuals who could not attend work due to exposure or sick from Covid-19. The order was created to cater to those who contracted Covid-19 and could not get to work because they were in quarantine or isolation. Although you can attend work, you are not allowed to avoid transmitting the disease to others. Therefore, the unemployment department is obligated to provide unemployment benefits. Additionally, you can get unemployment benefits if you care for a family member with Covid-19.

What options do I have when sick?

Several options are available for you when you cannot work because of illness.

Paid sick leave

Although employers have no legal requirement to provide paid sick leave, some companies have policies that give the employees paid sick leave. In such a case, your employer will offer a regular salary as you continue to recover. Most employers provide a limited sick leave; hence, if you have to stay for an extended time, you will need to take the family and medical leave, up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave.

 Paid family leave

The unemployment department has a provision for a paid family leave. However, the leave is only available for individuals who need to care for a family member that is seriously ill, bond with a new child, and participate in events such as the deployment of a family member to the military. Therefore, if you are seriously sick, you can request a family member to take care of you, and they will receive unemployment benefits.

Unpaid family and medical leave

Your employer must provide up to 12 weeks of sick leave in a year. During this period, your job is secure. However, such leave does not attract payment from your employer or the unemployment authorities.


The unemployment department focuses on individuals who are available to work but have not yet gotten any job offers. If you are seriously ill, the department assumes you are not available for work, and therefore you do not qualify for unemployment benefits.


  • Can I claim from the unemployment department if I am too sick to work?

No, the unemployment department does not provide any benefits if you are out of work because of sickness.

  • Does the law provide for paid sick leave?

No, the law does not compel employers to pay you for sick leaves.

  • Can I claim unemployment if I cannot work because of the Covid-19 quarantine?

Yes, you qualify for unemployment benefits if you are in isolation or quarantined due to Covid-19.

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