Involuntary Unemployment Benefits In California

The purpose of our state's Unemployment Insurance Code is to provide benefits to persons who are unemployed through no fault of their own, thereby reducing the suffering caused by involuntary unemployment. ( 100; Perales v. Department of Human Resources Dev. (1973) 32 Cal. App. 3d 332, 336 108 Cal. Rptr. 167; California Comp. Ins. Co. v. Ind. Acc. Com. (1954) 128 Cal. App. 2d 797 276 P.2d 148, 277 P.2d 442, 805, disapproved on another point in Pacific Employers Ins. Co. v. Industrial Acc. Com. (1959) 52 Cal. 2d 417, 422 340 P.2d 622.) The Unemployment Insurance Code also provides disability benefits to compensate eligible persons for unemployment caused by injury or sickness. ( 2625.) To finance state unemployment and disability benefits, California requires contributions from both employers and employees. Generally, employers must annually contribute to the unemployment fund based on wages paid to their employees. ( 976.) Employees contribute to the disability fund based on wages received; however, employers must withhold the employees' contributions from their wages. ( 984, 986-987, 2901.) "The taxing sections of the Unemployment Insurance Code are entirely separate from those concerning benefits, and . . . the provisions fixing liability for payments to the fund are to be considered accordingly." (Empire Star Mines Co. v. Cal. Emp. Com. (1946) 28 Cal. 2d 33, 43 168 P.2d 686, disapproved on another point in People v. Sims (1982) 32 Cal. 3d 468, 479-480, fn. 8 186 Cal. Rptr. 77, 651 P.2d 321.) The employer/employee relationship determines who must make contributions to the unemployment and disability funds. (Empire, supra, 28 Cal. 2d at p. 43.) Where an employee performs services for an employer, the employer is required to make contributions and withhold taxes; where an independent contractor performs services for a principal, the principal is not required to withhold taxes or make contributions. (Ibid.)