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If You Resign, Can You Get Unemployment?

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Resigning from a job in a challenging economy requires a lot of thought, especially if you do not have a replacement job available. Workers typically have unemployment insurance they can fall back on to make ends meet until they find new employment. However, if you resign from a job you may not have unemployment benefits to bridge this gap. This situation varies by the state, and some states provide benefits if you resign for an approved reason. All states give you the right to dispute a declined unemployment application, and it is within this complaint that you may explain the circumstances and receive benefits.

Work Hours

An employer may not reduce or modify work hours to coerce the employee to resign to avoid paying an unemployment insurance claim. For example, if an employer attempts to reschedule an employee to split shifts, night shifts or to a part-time number of hours to entice the employee to quit, the employee can still file a claim. The employee should first attempt to resolve the problem with the employer and document such attempts carefully. The employee should also make a reasonable attempt to comply with the employer's request.

Health Reasons

Some people resign from jobs for health reasons. If you have a medical condition that makes your current job difficult or impossible, first discuss it with your employer and your physician. Attempt to be moved into a position that provides relief from the physical or mental hardship. If you become disabled, the Americans With Disabilities Act requires your employer to accommodate your condition in ways such as changing your work schedule, modifying the facility to help with your impairment or changing your position in the company until you recover. If your employer will not help you resolve the matter, most states allow you resign and receive benefits while some only allow them if you successfully dispute a benefits decline notice. Your employer may also face substantial civil penalties for violating the ADA.

Change in Terms

Employers who dramatically change the terms of a job may also be open to unemployment claims by those who resign. Substantial reduction in wages or commission rates are examples of this change. Another example is switching employees from hourly wages to straight commission then holding employees to an unreasonable sales quota to entice them to resign. Another potentially valid reason to draw unemployment during a change in terms may be forced overtime by greatly increasing job workload. Document your old and new conditions carefully before filing a claim as you will need to explain this in the benefits application process.

Other Considerations

Other extenuating circumstances could compel an employee to quit while still needing benefits. Nebraska, for example, lists resigning to avoid spousal abuse as a valid reason to receive benefits. Quitting a viable job, even in states that allow for benefits, generally requires a penalty or waiting period to receive benefits. The burden of proof is always on the side of the employee to prove the validity of the resignation reason. Consider any employee protection statute that may cover your resignation and file the necessary paperwork to evoke this protection if necessary. If your employer changes your job in a way that goes against your religious beliefs, some states, such as Washington and Maryland, allow you to quit but still receive unemployment. This may include forcing you to work on the day your faith worships despite hiring you with the promise you would be off on these days.