Can Employees Who Voluntarily Resign Receive Unemployment Benefits?

If someone leaves your company voluntarily, you probably don’t expect to hear from the unemployment office. Prepare to be surprised. Employees who leave on their own terms may still apply for unemployment, and depending on the circumstances of their departure they may receive unemployment benefits. Understanding what can lead to an unemployment benefit award can help you prepare your exit interview process and internal systems to minimize your unemployment risk.

Personal Situations That Can Lead to Unemployment Benefits

When someone leaves your company, they often do so for personal reasons. Generally, they will let someone in your organization know what is going on. In case they don’t, be sure your exit interview process includes a step for documenting the reason.

Some of the reasons for leaving that lead to unemployment benefit awards include:
• Personal illness and the employee does not qualify for leave
• Care for a sick loved one and the employee does not qualify for leave
• Spouse relocation to an area where your company doesn’t operate
• Resigning to escape spousal abuse

In any of these situations, the State may decide that the separated employee should be awarded unemployment even if they left voluntarily.

Circumstances at Work That Can Lead to Unemployment Benefits

Sometimes an employee chooses to leave your organization because they are unhappy with some aspect of their work or position in your company. It may surprise you to discover that many of these grievances can lead to an award of unemployment
such as:

• Changes to the original hiring agreement
• Reduction in hours
• Change of office or assigned work location
• Lower pay
• Additional duties added that were not originally part of the job scope

The employee must make you aware of the conflict or concern and give you a chance to correct it. If you do not make an effort, your separated staff member may be considered eligible for benefits.

Consider the following example:

An employee in your organization is moved to part-time status due to a reorganization. She is very upset about this and wants to return to full-time hours. You don’t have an opening for full-time work, so you ignore her request.

She leaves your company to obtain full-time work somewhere else. Before she finds new work, she files for and receives unemployment benefits.

Even though she left voluntarily, your company did not respond to her concerns about reduced hours. In addition, your organization did not document her reason for leaving the company, so your former employee’s account of the situation is considered factual.

Protect Your Company with Appropriate Documentation

Unemployment awards are expensive and can cost your company money long after an employee leaves your organization. Unemployment payments can often be minimized with the proper systems, processes, and documentation.

Let us help you put those systems in place. We’ve helped many companies just like yours reduce their unemployment risk and streamline their procedures. To learn more about how a customized solution can help your organization, contact us today.