Q: Can you receive unemployment compensation if you quit your job without a good reason?
A: You will be ineligible for unemployment compensation if you voluntarily quit your job without “good cause”. However, if you can prove that you quit your job with “good cause”, you may be able to receive unemployment compensation (43 P.S. § 802(b)). To receive unemployment compensation, it is up to you to prove that you had “compelling and necessitous” reasons to quit your job.
Q: When do you have “good cause” to quit a job?
A: You have “good cause” to quit a job if the average person, in the same situation, would have quit his or her job (Taylor v. UCBR, 378 A.2d 829 (1977)). But before quitting, you must make a “good faith effort” to avoid quitting your job (PECO Energy v. UCBR, 682 A.2d 58 (1996)). That means that before quitting, you have to tell your company about the problem, and give them a chance to solve it (Deiss v. UCBR, 381 A.2d 132 (1997)). And if the problem is out of the company’s hands, you’ll have to show that you tried to overcome the problem yourself (Brown v. UCBR, 496 A.2d 1303 (1985)). Quitting for a personal preference is not good cause. To be considered good cause, you must have quit out of “necessity” (Glen Mills School v. UCBR, 665 A.2d 561 (1995)).
Q: What are some examples of “good cause” to quit a job?
A: There are many examples of “good cause”, such as:
When you cannot work because of a medical condition (or when working would worsen a medical condition) you may have good cause to quit a job, and could therefore receive unemployment compensation (Deiss v. UCBR, 475 Pa. 547 (1977)).
- To receive unemployment compensation after quitting a job for medical reasons, you must show that:
- You had adequate medical reasons to quit your job; and
- Before quitting, you told your company about the problem, and gave them a chance to accommodate you; and
- Even with the health problem, you are able and available to work at some job.
At your unemployment compensation hearing, you may need documents proving that you had a medical condition (Wivell v. UCBR, 673 A.2d 439 (1996)).
Family circumstances can be “good cause” to quit a job, if you tell your employer about the problem and take steps to fix it yourself (Davis v. UCBR, 452 A.2d 93 (1982)). For instance, you may have good cause to quit if you lose your babysitter and cannot find adequate childcare (as long as you make efforts to overcome the problem, and tell you boss about the situation) (Truitt v. UCBR, 509 Pa. 628 (1991)). If you quit your job to follow a spouse, you can only receive unemployment compensation benefits if your spouse was forced to transfer. If your spouse transferred voluntarily, you will not be eligible for benefits.
Financial difficulties can be “good cause” to quit a job, if you’ve told your boss about the problem, and you’ve made every effort to overcome the situation (Retten v. UCBR, 375 A.2d 646 (1974)).
Unacceptable Working Conditions:
Unacceptable working conditions can be “good cause” to quit a job, if you try to fix the situation with your employer (Kirk v. UCBR, 442 A.2d 1234 (1982)). However, since you presumably accept your working conditions when you take a job, simply being unsatisfied with your working conditions is not considered good cause to quit (Stratford v. UCBR, 466 A.2d 1119 (1983)). For working conditions to be “good cause” for quitting, you must show that:
- Your employer has substantially changed the working conditions; or
- You were unaware of the conditions when you took the job; or
- You were deceived about the conditions of employment. (Nat’l Aluminum v. UCBR, 429 A.2d 1259 (1981)).
Some examples of working conditions that could constitute “good cause” for quitting, as long as you informed your employer of the problem, include:
- Unsafe working conditions (Howell v. UCBR, 501 A.2d 718 (1985)).
- Your employer’s refusal to pay you (LaTruffe v. UCBR, 453 A.2d 47 (1982)).
- Offensive conduct by your employer, supervisor, or coworkers, such as unfair accusations, abusive conduct, discrimination on the basis of race, sex, age, etc., or profanity at work (Moskovitz v. UCBR, 635 A.2d 723 (1993)).
When a company relocates far from an employee, or when an employee loses access to his or her personal transportation, a serious problem could arise for the employee. Transportation problems can be considered “good cause” to quit your job, if you’ve told your company about the problem and have taken steps to overcome the problem yourself (J.C. Penny v. UCBR, 457 A.2d 161 (1983)).
In determining if your transportation problems are “good cause” to quit, courts consider:
- The increased traveling time and additional expenses of a longer commute.
- Whether you asked your boss for reimbursement for any additional expenses.
- Whether you sought alternative means of transportation, such as car pooling or public transportation (Love v. UCBR, 520 A.2d 107 (1987)).
Leaving for Other Employment:
Receiving a firm offer for another job is considered “good cause” for leaving your current job (Anotoff v. UCBR, 420 A.2d 800 (1980)). However, simply having the possibility of getting a new job is not considered “good cause” for leaving your current job (Barron v. UCBR, 384 A.2d 271 (1978)).