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Can I get unemployment benefits if I quit my job?

On Behalf of | May 18, 2023 | Employee Rights

If an employee is fired, they can generally receive unemployment benefits provided the employer does not claim and prove there was misconduct by the former employee. Many workers are unaware that they can also get unemployment compensation if they quit. There are basic requirements that should be known from the start.

Good cause is the key to getting unemployment benefits after a voluntary quit

Workers who have voluntarily quit their job must be aware that they might have the right to apply for and receive unemployment benefits. The mitigating factor will be if there was “good cause” to leave the job voluntarily.

For employees who have quit their job and are trying to prove there was good cause to do so, they must show that their reason for leaving was real, substantial and compelling. It needs to show that a reasonable person who wanted to keep the job would also have left if they were dealing with the same situation.

An example might be if there were dangerous working conditions on the job, the employee repeatedly sought ways for it to be resolved and it was not done.

Other potential ways in which the good cause threshold could be met include a worker being repeatedly harassed with nothing done about it; finding out there was illegal behavior in the workplace; work duties being changed to tasks the person was physically unable to complete; or not getting paid what they were supposed to be paid under the law.

Some employees need to leave the job for personal reasons but there are no negative issues between them and the employer. An example could be needing to care for a loved one who has become ill or the employee was diagnosed with a serious illness.

Employers and employees could disagree on whether the employee had good reason to leave the job and this could negatively impact the attempt to get unemployment compensation.

This is often true in adversarial employer-employee relationships. Working for an abusive boss or supervisor could spark disagreement as to whether the treatment reached such a level that it warranted the person quitting and they should also get unemployment.

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Since these cases can be complicated and might hinge on the interpretation of the terms “good cause,” “reasonableness,” and “compelling,” it is wise for those who are in this situation to know their rights. Discussing the case with people who are experienced in all areas of employment law can be helpful.

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