Unemployment benefits are for those who are unemployed through no fault of their own. In most cases, voluntarily leaving a job disqualifies you because you initiated the job separation. However, there are exceptions to the rule, which may vary slight depending on the state you’re applying for benefits in.
Discriminatory employment practices are prohibited by federal law. If an employer discriminates against you based on your race, sex, religion, sexual orientation or disability, you have the right to leave a hostile work environment while still collecting unemployment benefits. Keep evidence of the discrimination to show the state labor office when filing your claim.
Significant Change in Employment Terms
Another reason you can quit your job and still collect unemployment is if your employer makes significant changes to your employment terms. For example, if your employer moves your position to another state, you’re not required to move with it unless you want to. Unemployment laws don’t penalize you if you decide not to.
Unemployment programs also don’t penalize you if you quit your job for health reasons. However, you must be physically able to perform work to qualify for benefits. So you could quit a factory packaging job because of a back problem and still collect unemployment because you could conceivably work a number of office jobs where heavy lifting isn’t required. Depending on the state, you may have to provide a statement from a medical doctor explaining why you had to quit your job, though.
In the tough economic climate of 2011, some businesses are finding it hard to make payroll each payday. However, this isn’t the employee’s problem. If your job is not paying you, you do not have to continue working there. You can quit and the state will pay you unemployment benefits while you search for a new one. You also don’t have to worry about whether an insolvent employer will affect your actual unemployment payments. Those benefits come from the state’s unemployment trust fund whether your employer has paid his portion or not. Your state will pay you and handle going after the employer for its portion separately.