Can You Collect Unemployment If You Quit?

In many instances, the answer would be “yes.”

Whether or not benefits are paid, depends on if the quit is for “good cause” as “good cause” is defined by the state paying the benefit.  States vary widely in their views of “good cause” and their willingness to recognize same – almost always a reflection of the governing political philosophy of that particular state.

Good cause quits can fit into the following categories:

  • Material change in the employment contract – such as reduction of hours/pay, changes in job duties and/or location. This is, in fact, a discharge/job elimination, not a quit, but nonetheless provides the reason for a “good cause quit.”
  • Travel time/distance/cost factors – which turn employment into a ‘hardship.”
  • Domestic violence.
  • Domestic circumstances such as family illness or a spousal move (trailing spouse) – offered only in 50% of the states – with half of those recognizing military moves only.
  • Medical reasons substantiated with medical records. However, in order to receive benefits, claimant must be Able and Available to search for and accept other work.
  • Quit in Lieu of Discharge – such as a forced retirement – or other coercion such as a forced “resignation” to obtain a good reference, severance, etc.
  • Other compelling reasons:
  • workplace discrimination, violence,
  • hazardous/unsafe working conditions,
  • being forced to perform activities in violation of the law

For most of the above, you will first need to make an effort preserve the employment relationship by “addressing  the grievance” with your employer in writing, detailing the  problem areas and requesting employer to correct same –  i.e., different job duties if you are quitting for medical reasons, possible remote work or work at different office of that employer if you are forced to quit because of a spousal move, different work location if travel time/distance/costs become a hardship.

The circumstances surrounding the separation – whether it is a quit, firing, discharge – are the determinant.   While it is almost always easier to obtain benefits under a “discharge,” there are many reasons the states will pay benefits if you find it necessary to quit.

Quitting Because of Other Job Opportunities

Despite popular belief, most states will not disqualify you for unemployment benefits if you quit due to another employment opportunity. That being said, there are some things to consider.

Quitting because another job opportunity has lined up will only make you eligible for unemployment benefits if “there is reason to believe” you will be employed by another company or firm. That is, you were offered a job and made the decision to quit based on said offer.

An employee who quits solely for the reason of finding a new job will not be covered, however an employee who quits for the promise of a new job is not necessarily disqualified as long as he/she has some record (an email, a letter, etc.) of being offered a position with a new employer.

The reason someone might receive unemployment benefits after being offered another job almost always results from a promised job that never materialized or advantages over previous the previous job (better pay, more benefits) not being honored.

Quitting to Relocate With Spouse

 Relocating in order to accommodate your spouse’s new promotion does not mean having to sacrifice your job as well as your paycheck. Most states have equipped their unemployment laws with a “trailing spouse” provision in order to protect family unity.

In order to become eligible for unemployment benefits under the trailing spouse provision, the relocation must be far enough to constitute an unreasonable commute. That is, even if you are relocating within the same state, the distance between your new location and your job must be inconvenient enough to make quitting a reasonable option.

Relocating to a different state is another matter. While the location in this case would absolutely invoke an “unreasonable commute”, eligibility for unemployment benefits would now depend on whether the state you moved from follows the trailing spouse provision.

While some states offer trailing spouse benefits to all employees, some only offer this benefit to military spouses.

Quitting for Medical Reasons

Receiving unemployment benefits on account of a medical condition is not the same thing as receiving disability benefits. Unemployment benefits are reserved for individuals who are physically able to participate in the workforce. Compensation for medical reasons in this context depends on the extent to which the specific employer and/or workplace caused a medical condition to occur.

Quitting for a medical reason makes an employee eligible for unemployment benefits only if the specific work environment directly causes a medical condition or aggravates an existing health problem. In both cases, the damage must be such as to make the work environment hazardous to the employee’s health. Examples include allergens such as substances being used in the workplace, exposure to harsh temperatures, etc.

Note that in order to qualify for unemployment benefits after quitting for medical reasons, documentation must be provided. This should include medical evidence stating the presence of a health issue and its cause as relates to your job as well as documentation proving that your employer was/is unable to accommodate your condition.

Something else to keep in mind is that if forced to quit while accommodations are being made (i.e. moving you to a different department), you must be physically available to work after the particular workplace conditions are no longer a threat to your health.

Quitting Because of Domestic Circumstances

Most states provide unemployment benefits for employees whose resignation is caused by domestic circumstances. This includes quitting employment to care for children, address marriage, separation, or divorce issues, illness or death in the family, or complications caused by domestic abuse.

While it is possible to be eligible for unemployment benefits after quitting for domestic reasons, the general conditions (with the exception of domestic violence) usually imply returning to work once the issues are resolved. In the case of family illness or death as well as separation, divorce, or reconciliation, compensation is only given for the period of time deemed necessary by state law. In many cases, unless relocation is necessary, the employee must be available to return to work after a set period of time.

In order to become eligible for unemployment benefits due to domestic reasons, adequate documentation must be provided such as medical statements from a physician in case of illness, death certificate, divorce documents or separation files, or in the case of domestic violence, a domestic incident report, police report, or arrest report.

References

  1. Carlson, Bonnie E. “Causes and maintenance of domestic violence: An ecological analysis.” The Social Service Review (1984): 569-587.
  1. “Voluntary Quit VQ 235.” – Health and Safety Considerations. <http://www.edd.ca.gov/uibdg/Voluntary_Quit_VQ_235.htm>

42 comments

  • Brad

    Hi – my uncle has passed away out of province and I am executor of his estate – he has a home that cannot be left vacant due to a 300% insurance increase if it remains vacant through probate which could take over a year. There is no one left in my family in a position to help in this situation. I have applied for work in that area which I know will come through in time. I have given my notice of resignation after 12 years with my current job. Is any of this “Just Cause” to be entitled to Canadin EI Benifits ?

  • Linda Vrabel

    We are a team of nurses in Colorado that do Utilization Management remotely from home for a hospital system in the Denver area. We were all just told that the position is moving to on site and will no longer be able to work remotely. They are also adding duties not currently outlined in our job description. There is no clear plan per our supervisor regarding start date, hours working, office space but they want an answer within a week if we plan to stay with the job. They are also reducing the coverage by 8hrs effectively eliminating the night shift. Most of our team live at least 45 min to an hour or more away from the hospital site. One of our nurses lives 2hr away! If we decide to quit due to the hardship created by the change for time, distance and cost of commuting, will we qualify for unemployment benefits? Thanks.

    • Yes. You are being discharged from your current positions as remote workers, and are being offered new UNSUITABLE work, as to location, hours and duties. The new positions constitute a material change from your earlier employment contract.

      You tell Colorado your positions were eliminated. Employer may assert you’ve quit b/c you refused the new, on-site positions. If they do that and Colorado queries you about the job refusal/quit, you tell Colorado employer offered you new unsuitable work – for all the reasons you cite – which you refused. Key words to remember are “unsuitable” and “material change in employment contract.”

      Discussed at 4.b., here: https://wdr.doleta.gov/directives/attach/UIPL41-98.cfm

      If by some chance, Colorado denies the claim, appeal. You will win at appeal. Labor law is very clear on this issue, but interviewers often can get it wrong in the early stages.

  • Josh R

    I am currently on a temporary layoff from my job in North Dakota due to winter conditions. I made the decision to travel with my girlfriend to a work assignment in Florida. I found employment, but knowing fully that it would be only temporary because I would return with my primary employer. Leaving this job in Florida under a voluntary quit has now denied my benefits. How can a second job wherein your base period calculations for benefits were not made from deny benefits. Especially if I am not a Florida resident and I only worked there a week. I have an appeal hearing tomorrow morning, and have ND legislation chapters on Unemployment Disqualificafion factors that seem they will aid me.

    • What in the ND legislation do you believe works in your favor?

      I can state absolutely, it doesn’t matter where you work and from which state you are claiming. A quit is a quit. To quit that job without good cause – results in the state from which you are collecting refusing to resume benefits until you have worked again and experienced another qualified/good cause separation.

      Moving back to ND is not good cause. If you win at appeal, please post back and cite the language of the decision.

      FYI, good cause quit can be a material change in the employment contract such as change in job duties, pay rate, hours, hazardous working conditions, domestic abuse, job site relocation too far to make the job financially feasible, etc.

      • Josh R

        Well if I quit the job because it wouldn’t be financially practible to travel 2000 miles back to Florida everyday, wouldn’t that be good cause. It’s just unnerving that if I never even tried finding work I would be in a better situation.

        56-06-02 Disqualification for benefits (out of the ND legislation unemployment chapters)

        Line 1i
        This subsection does not apply of the individual voluntarily leaves most recent employment to accept a bona ride job offer with a base-period employer who laid off the individual and with whom the individual has a demonstrated job attachment. For the purposes of this exception, “demonstrated job attachment” requires earnings in each of six months during the five calendar quarters before the calendar quarter in which the individual files the claim for benefits.

        • That’s interesting language. When does your old job resume operation? How far in advance of that did you quit the FL job? Do you have documentation of a “job offer” after this layoff?

          It may be the only way you can resume benefits under that language is to appeal. Most interviewers cannot approve claims on issues like these, but automatically deny, letting the appeals tribunal make the final decision.

          That said, the issue will be if ND recognizes resumption of employment after a layoff as “acceptance of a bona ride job offer.”

          Please post your decision when you get it. Thanks.

          • Josh R

            It’s not my old job. I am listed as temporary layoff due to winter. I work with a stucco company, and hardly any construction goes on until favorable weather. I quit the Florida job in January because her work assignment was over and we returned back home to ND. Why would unemployment agencies force someone to stay somewhere away from their residence as long as they had some kind of job? I would say returning to work for your employer is the best bona fide job offer you could find.

          • Unemployment benefits are paid to those who lose their jobs “through no fault of their own.” In effect, you made the decision to quit. The quit now has to be adjudicated. UI laws don’t give you points for relocating and working for a short while – and are very strict when examining quits. As a general rule, it’s better to be fired than to quit. Quits always raise higher bar – again, because you made that choice.

          • Josh R

            Well I thank you for your time. I’ll return to this thread when I here the decision to my appeal, with an explanation on their conclusions. Will definitely never take on work when I’m not obliged to in future cases. It’s unbelievable people in this country will leach out benefits to the full extent, and I get turned down for finding temporary work. Oh well. Hope this helps anyone in anyway haha. Stay tuned 😄

  • Diana Santellanes

    I resigned from my position in GA to follow my husband who was relocated by the military to a different state. We obtained our marriage license in May with the intend to get married in October. My then fiancé, received his relocation orders in June to report to his new duty station on November 9th. I resigned on October 21st and we got married October 31st. Am I eligible to receive unemployment benefits under the provision of domestic circumstances?

    • You should have resigned after the marriage. Trailing spouse is available for military families in GA, but you were not married at the time of resignation. CA would pay benefits in this circumstance as it provides for “imminent” marriage. No other state does.

      If GA reviews the timeline of your resignation and the later marriage, technically it has grounds for denial. Even as liberal as CA is, it often denies trailing spouse benefits “just because” and makes people appeal in order to prove the obvious, which your case is not.

      Further, resignation over two weeks in advance of the actual transfer may also be disqualifying in GA – even if you had been married at the time of the resignation. Normally, the states like to see resignation effective only a few days before the transfer.

      Apply for benefits and see where it goes. If you’re lucky, GA won’t look at this too closely. If you are denied, appeal the ruling. You have nothing to lose, and many appeals are won.

  • Daniel Lounsbury

    I put in a 2 week notice because my daughters school overseas notified me that she was suspected of being autistic and would probably require special schooling. I asked my employer for a leave of absence to attend to this issue. They advised me to quit and stated that I could be rehired when I returned to the USA. after coming back to Seattle with my daughter I was not rehired by my previous employer and then denied unemployment benefits. Is this a decision I can appeal? I can not get any help for my daughter because I now have no Medical benefits.

    • Denials are always issued in cases like yours. Appeal hearing is where the issue is examined. Per WA, good cause quit is:

      Can you get benefits if you quit your job?

      It depends. We’ll decide if you are eligible for unemployment benefits based on the facts about your job loss. You may qualify for unemployment benefits if we decide you quit for the following good-cause reasons:

      You became sick or disabled, or a member of your family became sick, disabled or died, and it was necessary for you to quit work.

      https://esd.wa.gov/unemployment/quit

      File the request for an appeal hearing immediately. All you need to say is “I disagree with the decision. I request an appeal hearing.” You will need to present evidence of your daughter’s medical issues.

  • Ann C

    I live in Illinois and have been employed at my company for over a year. I have taken FMLA leave as my husband is critically ill and has been in the hospital for two months. I have kept my employer updated regularly on the status of my husband’s health. I just found out today that if I don’t return to work by March 12, 2017 they will not be able to hold my job any longer. How should I handle this so I can collect unemployment – resign, quit, or get fired?

    Thank you!!

    • If you are not able to search for and accept work, unemployment benefits cannot be paid regardless if you quit or are fired. It’s called being Able and Available. If your husband’s hospitalization prevents you working now, what about that changes if you lose your job and/or after he comes home? No benefits can be paid until you are able to search for and accept work.

      Wait for a dismissal. Do not resign. Once you end your FMLA leave, the Fair Employment and Housing Act protections still exist, and they provide that if a finite period of unpaid leave would allow you to return to your job, and extending that leave would not constitute an undue hardship on the employer, you should be provided that additional unpaid leave.

      Therefore, before your FMLA ends, you need to request an unpaid leave of absence if you need additional time. If you’re lucky, employer will discharge you before your FMLA expires, making it somewhat easier to get benefits. You would still be required to demonstrate A&A.

      You should also locate and consult with an experienced employment law attorney as soon as possible to explore your facts and determine your options. You might want to start, here:

      http://www.nslslaw.com/chicago-lawyers/31-grounds-for-unemployment-in-illinois.html

      No matter how this eventually plays out, expect an initial denial, as employer will cite failure to return after FMLA, i.e., a “quit.” You will need to appeal to have your case properly adjudicated.

  • Jocelyn N

    My husband gave a 2 week notice at his job in Massachusetts. His manager terminated him the next day. Can he collect unemployment?

    • Was he paid for those two weeks? If not, most states will pay for the period of time between discharge and notice. Know that, MA which can take forever to approve a claim, may very well take ten weeks to render a decision. Further, MA has a waiting week, so the most he will collect, when he is finally approved, is one week’s benefits.

  • Weston Sheridan

    Would you qualify for unemployment if you quit your position in New York to assist in the care of an aging parent which requires relocating to Florida? Proposal had been made to the company to allow position to be a telecommute but it was rejected. Appreciate your help!

  • Mary

    I have worked in the dental field for almost 7 years as an office manager, I left my previous job Almost 2 months ago because of stress but I started my new job right away. I’ve been under so much stress I’ve been suffering from migraines and I’m taking medication at the moment. My manager is very rude and messages me like 20 times a day asking questions about every patient. The Doctor has disrespected me twice already and I have proof that he’s cursed at me and other employees
    Will I qualify for unemployment even though I’ve been at this office for less than two months? I haven’t stopped working for the past seven years just changed to a different office in December

    • Depends on the state. NJ requires you work the new job at least eight weeks following a quit. Further, you need medical documentation from the doctor which you provide to the employer requesting a change in working conditions to alleviate this stress. This is your effort to address the grievance and preserve the employment relationship. If you’re lucky, the employer will fire you. If not, and if no changes are made, you quit. And then present your situation to the states. Some states will approve a claim, others will deny and require you appeal.

      • Mary

        I live in California, do I need something in writing? I talked to the manager twice already and things are the same
        3 people have quit in the past month already

        • Already answered. You need this:

          Further, you need medical documentation from the doctor which you provide to the employer requesting a change in working conditions to alleviate this stress.

          You write a letter outlining your grievance and attaching docs note.

  • Kris Been

    I have Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis. It was under control until about 6 months ago, 1 month after starting my current job. The job is extremely stressful, as they have me doing the work of what should be divided among two people. I’ve spoken to my supervisor, who is also the HR person, multiple times about shifting some responsibilities to others on my team. It happens for a day or two, and we’re back to the same old routine. My Lupus has been flaring up so much, that I spend every weekend in bed, I’m dizzy, my vision is blurring, I’m in constant pain, etc., etc. I’ve not been in to discuss with my doc yet (appointment tomorrow), but have lots of photos of physical manifestations of the flare ups (rashes, swollen joints, hair loss). I have decided to resign this week, as I am worried that something serious will happen (car accident, permanent physical issues, worse). After a long weekend, I start to feel better, so I know it’s completely stress related. If I resign, will I be eligible for unemployment? I can work, full time even, I just can’t work where I am now….it will kill me. Oh, and I’m not just being dramatic. I’m the 8th person in this same roll over the last 6 years. They didn’t disclose that to me when they hired me, otherwise I would have run for this hills.

    • If you have presented your employer with a doctor’s statement that stress/workload is causing medical issues and your employer refuses to permanently rectify the situation and your have documentation supporting this, then, yes, you can quit for medical reasons. Your state should grant the claim but will want evidence that you are Able and Available to search for and accept other work. Some states will automatically deny in your circumstances, which means you will need to appeal to win benefits.

  • Anonymous

    If a person has filed an EEOC complaint and gives a two to three week notice to the company that they are resigning will that person be eligible for unemployment benefits?

    • Filing of an EEOC complaint is unrelated to approval for unemployment benefits.

      Before you quit, you also need to “address the grievance” with the employer in writing, requesting they address the issues in question. You will have then met the burden of making an effort to “preserve the employment relationship.” If employer does not correct the issues and/or fires you (which actually would be preferable), then you may quit.

      Because you

      (1) made the effort to preserve the employment relationship, and
      (2) provided your state agrees that your reasons for the quit

        (a) meet your state’s standards for good cause and
        (b) can be substantiated,

      your claim will be approved.

  • Debby

    I have worked for the same company for 16 months. I have preformed this same type of work previously with the same company for almost 14 years and was discharged due to them selling there assist. I was hired for 1 community and have now been moved to my 4th community to date. when I was placed in the position I now have I was demoted from being a community manager to an assistant community manager. I lost close to $5.00 per hour but basically was given no other choice. the manager I went to work with in November gave notice the 1st week of December and now has been gone since 12/22/2016. I have now been tasked as taking over all the job duties as a CM but with no type of compensation. I am being held to meet all deadlines and accountable as if I am the CM. I have not signed a new contract from the demotion & I am working in a high crime area alone. I have tried & reached out numerous times but nothing has changed. If I was to give notice that I am resining do to these circumstances would I be eligible for unemployment under Florida guidelines?

    • Before you resign, one more time put in writing your grievances with employer and ask them to correct same – you want your position restored to that of CM, your salary increased accordingly. If you’re lucky, they’ll fire you. Hopefully, the letter will trigger them to do that. Much easier to get benefits if you are fired than if you quit.

      If you aren’t fired, then resign, apply for benefits, emphasize the demotion and pay cut, both of which are a material change in the employment contract. It may take FL a couple of months to adjudicate your claim, so benefits won’t be paid anytime soon. Know that FL’s benefit is only $275/wk. for 13 weeks.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve been working as a part-time RN making approx 30,000/yr since having my son 1.5 yrs ago. Prior to that I was always full time. Anyway I’ve been working for a doctors office since may 2016. I was hired part time until our office moved into a bigger building then I was to be full time. The expected move date is in may 2017. I unexpectedly became pregnant and I am due in may 2017. I told my boss dec 12th that I had made the decision that I will not be able to work full-time but I am able to work part-time until my due date. I was told that they need to hire a replacement asap before the move. I understand their business aspect of the situation but then I was told dec 19th that Jan 18th will be my last day because a replacement was found. And they asked me for a resignation letter. Should I give a resignation letter if I am not resigning on Jan 18th? I WANT to work until My due date. And with me being part-time can I get unemployment? I have already applied to some jobs but no one will hire me 5 months + pregnant. what should I do?

    I live in Pennsylvania

  • I has a serious back surgery actually two was on FMLA did everything my company asked me to do I will once again need to have another fusion surgery to stabilize my spine and I have been told I can no longer go to doctors appt during my 8 to 5 job nor have any restrictions… I agreed to this but went to my HR to ask about American disability act and or resigning for medical reasons which could allow me to collect unemployment in my state. I believe I kicked myself in my own butt bc after working almost a little over a week I get put on a 90 day action plan I have never had any complaints did my review in may and got a raise and I believe its retaliation from a very large corporation looking to make sure they will not have to pay me if I resign they are also replacing nurses in my facility with RNs and I am a LVN who is closet to getting her rn but bc of this back problems things have been placed on hold I have read so many horror stories about once placed on an action plan its just their way to cover themselves when they fire me which would be an unfair dismall bc the action plan is bogus there is nothing in there that I have not done until my back problem and I was off for over three mths could this be fought could I still qualify for unemployment I just dont kno my options I am a single mom and need my job I live in Texas if anyone knows anything about this please contact me…thank u so much!!!

    • If you have no medical reason for a quit, then you must wait until you are discharged – and fight your way through your employers’ assertions of poor performance and whatever else they come up with.

      Expect that TX – not a claimant-friendly state – will deny the claim and you will need to appeal to get benefits. It becomes a case of how long you are willing to persist because this will take months. Of course, your employer might not say anything derogatory at all, in which case your benefits would be approved. Only you know the likelihood of that.

      Fyi – it is very common to be let go during or after an FMLA. For some reason I have yet to fathom, FMLA irritates employers and they often get rid of the employee as soon as they can. Most claimants get benefits if that occurs.

      It is also very common to become a target for a discharge when requesting special consideration because of a disability or other issue but, of course, the employer finds other reasons for the discharge not connected to the disability. And, none of this, course, can be proven.

  • Pamela Ferris

    i have been at my current job for three months full time. My three month evaluation is coming up on Dec 22. I have had co -workers tell me they heard I am going to be let go ,another has a starting date of Jan 1,2017.I confronted my boss who is the owner of the company and she said yes, she has someone taking over my position. I then asked her what do we do at this point, as she had not given me my review therefore, i dont want to quit, i like my job,but if I am not valued, where do we go from here? She at that point said”well because of the way you found out, how about if she lets me continue to work for the next two weeks, If I want to leave, she can also find coverage . I plan on working for the next two weeks, i dont want to quit,will i be able to qualify for unemployment benefits, being she let me go?Please help! Thank you!

  • Denise M. Linclau

    My job is being eliminated. I also have a second ( much lower paying ) job to try to meet my expenses.
    Can I qualify for unemployment?
    Thank you

    • You will qualify for benefits but the state will deduct your gross part-time earnings from the benefit. States have varying formulas for this offset. Some allow you to keep 60% of the benefit before it begins deducting, others only 20%, some use a dollar-for-dollar offset. Don’t expect to receive much of a net benefit. Generally, part-time work is quite detrimental to the amount you receive.

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