Temporary Furloughs & Reduced Salary – A Valid Reason to Quit Job?
(Minneapolis, MN, USA)
My company has been instituting 1 week per quarter unpaid time off furloughs. This obviously has reduced my salary significantly despite my being able to draw unemployment benefits during the furlough week. My question is since these furloughs have significantly reduced my earnings would I have a valid reason to quit my job (to find another that will make ends meet) as it pertains to collecting unemployment benefits? In other words – would I likely be able to collect unemployment insurance benefits if I quit my job to find another because of the reduced salary caused by these quarterly furlough weeks?
To draw unemployment benefits in most states there has to be a valid cause that is attributable to the employer for the loss of work. In most situations a significant reduction in salary or benefits is attributable to the employer and is a valid cause or reason that would allow an employee to receive unemployment benefits. Is a furlough which is instituted on a reoccuring basis a valid reason for one to quit and seek employment elsewhere AND would the furlough be a valid reason to quit attributable to the employer allowing the employee to receive unemployment benefits?
At the time of this posting there is almost no information found on this subject when searching the internet with the major search engines. There are plenty of sites that discuss receiving unemployment benefits while on furlough, but none found that address this question of furloughs being a valid reason to quit attributable to the employer for claiming and receiving unemployment benefits.
I seriously doubt that the percentage of the reduction in pay for a one week of every quarter would be enough of a reduction in any state.
And in every state .. I would like to see a line drawn by a precedent decision which defines what constitutes a significant reduction great enough to actually quit with good cause. That isn’t always easy to find.
I have seen Florida court decisions which say 17 percent isn’t enough .. but others that say 20 percent is.
I have seen a recent Indiana decision which said a 33 percent reduction wasn’t enough .. ironically because the women didn’t lose her health benefits .. I would have continued to appeal that decision .. because fringe benefits aren’t “wages”.
Actually, if you think about it, total unemployment pays roughly 50 percent of your weekly wage .. up to the maximum benefit allowed in a state.
The reasonable person standard would be used .. would the average reasonable person quit a job where the significant reduction in pay is approx. 8.3 percent vs. 50 percent? (better check my math)
Now, if you had told me that you were required to take a one week furlough three times a quarter .. that would be a 25 percent reduction .. and I would then be telling you to find a legal research service that offers 24 hours free to find out if MN has any precedents stating 25 percent is significant ..
So, in conclusion Bill, I would say you do not have good cause to quit AND receive unemployment benefits.