Unemployment Benefit is a weekly payment which helps people who are looking for work or training for work
Who can get it
You may get the Unemployment Benefit if you are not in full-time work.
You must be:
- available for, and looking for full time work
- 18 years old or over if no dependent children
- 19 years or over in any other case.
You must also (unless you are in hardship):
- be a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident
- have lived in New Zealand for at least 2 years at any one time since becoming a New Zealand citizen or resident (unless you are a refugee).
You should also normally live in New Zealand and intend to stay here.
You may still qualify if you are a full-time trainee on an approved work related course (usually less than 12 weeks) and looking for work.
For more detail about who can get it see:
This information is a guide only.
You may be required to complete ‘pre-benefit activities’ before receiving a benefit, see:
You are required to actively seek full-time work of at least 30 hours per week and accept any suitable job.
If you have a partner
If you don't have dependent children your partner will be expected to actively seek full-time work of at least 30 hours per week and accept any suitable job.
If you have dependent children and the youngest child is:
- aged under five years old your partner will need to take practical steps to get ready for work
- between five and 13 your partner will be expected to actively seek part-time work of at least 15 hours per week and accept any suitable job
- 14 or older your partner will be expected to actively seek full-time work of at least 30 hours per week and accept any suitable job.
If your partner is aged 16-17 years old (or 16-18 if you have dependent children) they must work with a local Youth Service provider and meet a number of obligations to keep getting the benefit, such as being in full-time education, training or work-based learning.
For more information see:
On Unemployment Benefit for more than 12 months
If you still require Unemployment Benefit after 52 weeks you’ll have to re-apply for your benefit. We’ll let you know when you have to re-apply and tell you what you need to do.
When you re-apply, you’ll also need to complete a Comprehensive Work Assessment. This will identify what steps you have taken to find work and what help you might need from us to be more successful in getting a job.
What happens if you don’t re-apply in time?
Your benefit will be stopped if you don’t re-apply in time. In some cases you may be able to have an extension if you can’t re-apply in time but you need to contact us immediately and explain your circumstances.
What does your partner need to do?
If you have a partner, then your partner will need to complete their portion of your re-application form.
If you don’t re-apply for Unemployment Benefit after 52 weeks, your partner’s portion of your benefit will also stop.
Partners with work obligations need to participate in and complete their own Comprehensive Work Assessment.
Having an additional child
If you have another child while receiving a benefit your partner’s work obligations may change when the child turns one year old. See:
If you're receiving a benefit from us, or thinking about applying, there are going to be some changes to your obligations over the next year. Make sure you know what's changing and how it will affect you.
How much you can get
This depends on your current circumstances.
When may your payment start
Depending on your situation, you may have to wait before you get your first payment. In most circumstances, you will usually get your first payment within 2-3 weeks after you apply, or from the date your training course starts. You may have to wait longer if you have recently been in work, and:
- left your job without a good reason
- lost your job because of misconduct
- got holiday pay or another payment at the end of your job
- are getting sick pay from your employer.
For more information
If you'd like more information read:
For more detail go to our:
Are you eligible?
Find out if you might get this benefit, what other financial assistance may be available to you, and what pre-benefit activities you may have.