When you, an at-will employee (most employees in the United States work at-will) decides you must voluntarily quit your job .. you've exercised your right at-will, to resign with, or without a good reason that must also stack up to what unemployment insurance laws consider good cause to collect unemployment if you say bye-bye to a job .. for whatever your reason might be.
The hitch, or the reason most who quit, don't get benefits is quitting makes you the moving party and what can be good cause for benefits can vary widely by individual state unemployment statutes.
But, in all states, when you quit, you have accepted the burden of being able to prove you had good cause at the time you voluntarily left your job.
Unemployment insurance laws everywhere, always expect the moving party to not just initially show good cause, but to sustain that burden should you, or the employer appeal the gatekeeper's (claim interviewer/adjudicator) initial determination after you apply to receive them.
My basic advice to anyone considering quitting and then filing for unemployment benefits is to accept the fact that because you were the moving party, you will be expected to also know how to fulfill your burden with what the burden demands you prove.
Acquiring proof that the fault for a voluntarily quit is attributable to the work, or the employment can sometimes take a bit of nerve to step out of a non-complaining .. go with the flow, employee attitude, but then the strength of your case for benefits often comes down to precisely this .. the efforts you made to first attempt to preserve your job..
Proof is something more easily created and gathered.. before you leave a job. In fact, it's the timing of your efforts to prove good cause that often make, or break an argument at an unemployment appeal hearing .. that quitting was your employer's fault.
If it sound like sustaining the burden quitting a job with good cause for UI benefits is done in advance of resigning .. then by golly, I think you got it!
The question has been known to drive me crazy .. because even if the reason may be good cause it leaves me wondering about the efforts that fulfill the burden of proving those efforts that might of proven good cause to collect unemployment.
The problems begin before you quit a job. So few employees make any effort that can show their desire to keep a job, or their intent to preserve a job, often because they assume efforts will be futile a myth about collecting unemployment when you quit a job has been assumed to be the truth .. that it's never possible.
Well unemployment laws disagree, but they also don't care about what you know in your heart, but what you can prove .. and preferably with paper documents they can see to confirm you're telling a credible story about what really happened that forced you to quit your job.
If employers know it's important to build document walls that promote the idea of employee fault for a discharge when an employer has the burden.. why haven't more employees grasped and pursued the basic idea of documenting, documenting, documenting, for their own benefit?
There are about twelve states who have constructed unemployment statutes to imply a person may have good cause to quit a job due to personal reasons of a compelling and necessitous nature, but this tends to mislead employees to think proof of good cause won't be needed for personal reasons.
Well, the compelling and necessitous purpose for quitting for personal reasons .. is often brought on by an employer's inability, or refusal to help with your efforts to preserve your job due to personal circumstances.
Here's how DOLETA's State by State Unemployment Comparison Charts explains an employee's burden of voluntarily quitting a job.
VOLUNTARILY LEAVING WORK—Since the UI program is designed to compensate wage loss due to lack of work, voluntarily leaving work without good cause is an obvious reason for disqualification from benefits. All states have such provisions. In most states, disqualification is based on the circumstances of separation from the most recent employment. These disqualification provisions may be phrased in terms such as “has left his most recent work voluntarily without good cause.” In a few states, the agency looks to the causes of all separations within a specified period. An individual who is not disqualified for leaving work voluntarily with good cause is not necessarily eligible to receive benefits. For example, if the individual left because of illness or to take care of a family member who is ill, the individual may not be able to work or available for work. This ineligibility would generally last only until the individual was again able and available.
Voluntarily Leaving—In all states, individuals who leave their work voluntarily must have good cause if they are not to be disqualified.
In many states, good cause is explicitly restricted to good cause connected with the work, attributable to
the employer, or involving fault on the part of the employer. However, in a state where good cause is not
explicitly linked to the work, the state may interpret its law to include good personal cause or it may limit it to
good cause related to work. Since a state law limiting good cause to the work is more restrictive, it may contain
specific exceptions that are not necessary in states recognizing good personal cause. (For example, an explicit
provision not disqualifying an individual who quits to accompany a spouse to a new job might not be necessary
in a state that recognizes good personal cause; it would be necessary in a state restricting good cause to that
related to the work.)
The following table identifies states that restrict good cause for quitting to reasons connected to the
Here's some questions and answers about quitting a job ..
Do you believe you were forced to quit a job in lieu of being fired? Good news .. the unemployment department thinks you were fired too .. if you had no choice in the matter except to quit, or be fired.