In this paper we provide an account of most of the passive labor market policies (unemployment compensation, social assistance, state social support and the pension system) in the Czech Republic during the 1990–1996 period. The eligibility requirements and benefit levels are described in great detail. Using Labor Force Survey data, we compare the characteristics of unemployed people receiving unemployment benefits with those receiving social assistance and those not receiving any benefits and we find significant differences in their characteristics. Finally, we provide an analysis of the work disincentive effects of the unemployment and social assistance benefits by comparing these benefits to market wages and by analyzing the effect of being in the system on the duration of unemployment of two cohorts of unemployed in 1994 and 1995. We find that social assistance benefits are fairly generous for low income families with more children, individuals with these characteristics have a higher probability of receiving social assistance and they tend to stay unemployed longer than those people with relatively fewer dependants. We conclude that the social assistance scheme seems to be having some disincentive effects for at least one group in the population.