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What do the weeks requirement and years requirement entail?

When it comes to unemployment benefit, the weeks and years requirement play a major role. These two requirements reflect your employment history and thus determine whether you are entitled to unemployment benefit, under what conditions this is done and for how long you are entitled to unemployment benefit. You will receive unemployment benefits for 3 months if you meet the weeks requirement. The following applies to the years requirement: the longer you have worked, the longer you are entitled to unemployment benefits.

What is the weeks requirement for unemployment benefit?

You will receive unemployment benefit for 3 months if you meet the weeks requirement. The weeks requirement was created to test your recent employment history. You must have worked at least 36 weeks in the last 26 weeks before you became unemployed to meet this week requirement. If that is the case, you are entitled to at least 3 months of unemployment benefit. For this week requirement, it does not matter how many hours you worked in these 26 weeks.

In some cases, we look beyond just the weeks requirement. In a number of situations, you have worked less than 26 weeks in the last 36 weeks, while you are entitled to unemployment benefit. This happens if you:

  • Have been ill in the reference period;
  • Received pregnancy or maternity leave in the reference period;
  • Took unpaid leave.

If this is the case, the most recent period in which you worked for 26 weeks is considered.

What is the year requirement for unemployment benefit?

If you meet the weeks requirement, you are entitled to at least 3 months of unemployment benefit. This can be extended if you also meet the years requirement. But what does that year requirement entail?

It is actually very simple: the longer you have worked, the longer you are entitled to unemployment benefits. You meet the years requirement if you meet the following conditions:

  • You meet the weeks requirement;
  • You worked in the past 5 years, prior to the calendar year in which you became unemployed, for at least 4 years;
  • Until 1 January 2013, you received wages per year for at least 52 days. From 1 January 2013, it will be checked whether you have received wages for 208 or more hours per year.

During these 4 years, have you provided for (your own or someone else's) children up to the age of 5 for whom you receive child benefit or did you provide informal care? Then this can also count as work. You must then meet strict conditions. This is referred to as the 'care package' and 'informal care package'.

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