Many managers believe that all employee quits disqualify someone from collecting unemployment benefits, which is not always true. Careful reporting and documentation of voluntary quits is absolutely vital for effective control of unwarranted claims. It cannot be stressed enough that you should document the reasons why an individual says they have quit.
- If you are unable to obtain a written resignation letter, you should document your conversation with the person about the reasons for leaving including the date and with whom they spoke.
- If the individual does not provide much information other than quitting for “personal reasons,” it is okay to ask more questions to obtain additional details and information.
- If you can get them to text or email you with their reasons for leaving, that communication can be saved and used as documentation.
Most states expect that if an employee provided reasons for quitting, then the employer could have offered solutions rather than having the person quit. The burden is on the employer to propose options such as using vacation time, offering a leave of absence, changing work hours, or moving locations, to name a few. Just because someone did not ask for alternate arrangements does not mean the employer will win. Employers should document what was offered and reasons given as to why the offer was not accepted. This will show that the employer attempted to preserve the employment relationship. Next, it will be the claimant who needs to show good cause for refusing proposed options that could have remedied their situation.
While most quits, especially for non-compelling personal reasons, are disqualifying for unemployment benefits, there are significant exceptions. For example, all states may allow benefits for a quit with “good cause” attributable to employment. Other states have a broader “good cause” to include quits for certain compelling personal reasons leaving the claimant with no reasonable alternative. Here are more examples.
Quit – Without Good Cause
- Attend school
- Get married
- Seek other work, e.g. career pivot
- Stay home with children
- Leaving in anticipation of discharge
- Job abandonment, no call no show for three or more days
Quit – With Good Cause
- Substantial or adverse change in terms of hire (e.g. reduction in hours, pay, change in duties or worksite)
- Evidence of harassment or discrimination
- Working conditions detrimental to health or safety
Quit – With Good Cause for Personal Reasons
- Quit for medical reasons (e.g. doctor’s advice to move to a warmer climate)
- Care for a dependent parent or child
- Quit to follow a spouse who transferred elsewhere
Note: A quit in lieu of discharge is not a voluntary quit, because continuing work was not available.
Laws, rules, and exceptions vary greatly, so take care to obtain, whenever possible, a resignation letter. And, conduct an exit interview to document reasons for the quit. If an employee is leaving because of an alleged problem on the job, document the circumstances and attempts (if any) to find a solution, such as offering a transfer or leave of absence.
For more guidance about why someone who quit is receiving unemployment benefits, 501(c) Agencies Trust members can call Doug Adams at 800-442-4867. For HR advice, members can contact the HR Services Hotline at 800-631-2967.