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There is a widespread misconception that quitting your job is an automatic disqualification from unemployment compensation, but you can still receive benefits if there was good cause for your resignation. The explanations of good cause vary from one state to another. In Michigan, court cases provide clarification about good cause and whether you can collect benefits after voluntarily leaving your job.
Establishing Good Cause
Section 29(1)(a) of the Michigan Employment Security Act governs the disqualification of employees from receiving unemployment benefits. The statute prohibits an employee from collecting unemployment insurance benefits if the individual voluntarily resigned from work without good cause. Under state case law, good cause is established when the employer’s actions caused the employee to resign. For example, if you voluntarily leave after repeated incidents of sexual harassment, you may have resigned with good cause. However, if you quit because your husband's job was transferred to another state, you may not have good cause because the resignation was not due to any actions of your employer.
Prior to Quitting
To preserve your qualification for benefits, take extra precautions before making the final decision to resign.
- Provide your employer with written notification about the perceived problem.
- Be specific and communicate your dissatisfaction in a clear, respectable manner.
- Give your employer an opportunity to fix the problem.
The appropriate amount of time can vary depending on the specific situation at hand -- just ensure that you give an adequate chance for correction. If the situation is not fixed, submit a resignation letter and include your reasoning.
The Involuntary Quit
An involuntary quit can also meet Michigan's good cause requirement. Medical conditions or physical limitations may keep you from continuing in your position. Notify your employer about the situation and ask for a reasonable accommodation. If your employer is unable or unwilling to fulfill your request, your resignation may be classified as involuntary and your qualification for benefits may be preserved. However, you must remain willing and able to work in a position that fits your training, experience and physical limitations.
Presenting Your Case
Once you file an unemployment benefits claim, your employer is given the opportunity to contest the award of benefits. If this occurs, both parties must attend a hearing to determine whether benefits will be awarded. During the hearing, it is your burden to prove that your resignation was for good cause. Present testimony and evidence about your reasoning and what measures you took to seek correction before leaving your job. Use statements from coworkers and copies of submitted documentation to support your claim.
Erika Winston is a Washington, D.C.-based writer, with more than 15 years of writing experience. Her articles have appeared in such magazines as Imara, Corporate Colors E-zine and Enterprise Virginia. She holds a Juris Doctor degree from Regent University and a Masters in public policy from New England College.