Unemployment Rules for Voluntarily Leaving

by Frances Burks - Updated September 26, 2017

Voluntarily quitting a job may not prevent an employee from collecting unemployment compensation. Serious problems with working conditions would likely be included under unemployment eligibility requirements, as opposed to leaving a job for career advancement. In any case, state unemployment agencies determine workers' eligibility for unemployment.

Unemployment Eligibility

Labor departments around the nation generally consider why workers left a job to determine their eligibility for unemployment compensation. For example, the Michigan Employment Security Act indicates that workers aren't eligible for unemployment benefits if they quit a job without a good reason related to an employer’s actions for which an employee isn't to blame. Furthermore, the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency indicates that a worker who quit a job voluntarily must get another job and accumulate earnings with the new employer to re-qualify for any future unemployment compensation.

Medical Issues

Employees who choose to leave a job because of a medical problem that interferes with the performance of their duties may qualify for unemployment compensation. States such as Michigan classify leaving a job due to illness as an involuntarily departure, which generally allows a worker to collect unemployment benefits. Nonetheless, the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency notes that employees must still be able to work at some other job to claim benefits, despite not being able to fulfill the duties of their previous position.

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Workplace Problems

Workers who want to quit a job because of unsafe working conditions, discrimination or some other problem that an employer is responsible for correcting must first give the employer an opportunity to fix the problem. Employees who quit because their employer hasn't addressed such problems may qualify for unemployment compensation in most states. However, workers must ensure they're not exaggerating the situation. The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency indicates that employees need to back up such unemployment claims by showing they left a job for a compelling reason that would likely cause any reasonable person to leave in the same situation. According to the website FindLaw, general job dissatisfaction doesn't qualify as a compelling reason to quit.

Job Offers

The Nolo law information website indicates that most states don't prevent workers from receiving unemployment benefits if they leave a job to take another position that eventually falls through. However, workers who leave a job to look for another position usually don't qualify for benefits. Workers who receive a job offer that doesn't materialize should be prepared to show their local unemployment agency that they had a firm offer for a new position to back up their unemployment claim.

About the Author

Frances Burks has more than 15 years experience in writing positions, including work as a news analyst for executive briefings and as an Associated Press journalist. Burks has banking and business development experience, and she has written numerous articles on consumer issues and home improvement. Burks holds a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Michigan.

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