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It is commonly thought that people who resign from their jobs are not eligible for unemployment benefits since they in fact made the decision to leave. And in most situations this thought would be correct. In fact, in order to be disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits, an employee’s resignation must be considered voluntary and without good cause attributable to the employer. However, resulting from findings in unemployment cases and with the passage of unemployment reform in 2013 we see that resignations may result in payment of unemployment benefits when any of the following seven situations exists. The unemployment will be charged to the employers account in all but cases five and six.
- the resignation is coerced, meaning the employer offers the employee the opportunity to resign or be terminated;
- the employee resigns because of an intolerable work situation (examples: harassment or hostile environment) The employee would need to have strong case;
- the employee turns in a notice of resignation for a future date, and the employer immediately terminates the employee (unless the employer pays the employee through the resignation period, or the employer is able to show the termination was because of other employee actions that would result in termination under policy);
- the employer permanently reduces the work hours of an employee by more than 50% (used to be 20% until House Bill 4 in 2013) or the employer permanently reduces the pay of any employee by more than 15% (without cause attributable to the employee;
- the employee resigns because his or her spouse is in the military and is being transferred to another location (not charged to employer);
- the employee resigns as the result of domestic violence that requires they move into a safe house or relocate (not charged to employer);
- the employee is on a disciplinary suspension of more than 30 days (considered a good cause to quit).
Given all these exceptions we strongly advise that HR (or the next level above the employee’s supervisor) discuss the reason for a resignation with the departing employee to assure that it is truly voluntary, and ask for a written voluntary resignation including the reason for leaving.