Can I Receive Unemployment Benefits if I Quit?

Calendar Icon Updated January 15, 2019
Unemployment

Unemployment benefits are available for people who become unemployed through no fault of their own. If you choose to become unemployed by quitting your job, you are not likely eligible to receive these benefits. However, certain circumstances may back an employee into a corner, making quitting the only viable option. 

These types of circumstances may include:

  • Unsafe work environment
  • Large reduction in pay or hours
  • Employer fails to pay you wages earned
  • Discrimination or harassment

Reasons for Quitting Your Job that Qualify for Unemployment

Quitting for one of these reasons is considered a “just cause” and you may be eligible to receive unemployment benefits. That being said, proving you’ve quit for a just cause can be difficult. Once you file a claim, employers have the right to appeal your request. For this reason, employees are advised to keep detailed records of their reasons for quitting if you plan to file for unemployment benefits. This will help make a strong claim when filing for unemployment benefits after leaving your job and aid in winning your appeal should your employer challenge the claim.

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In some cases, certain personal reasons are considered just cause for quitting your job. For example, a work environment may be deemed unsafe because the employee is in an abusive relationship and must relocate to avoid danger. In this case, being unemployed is neither the employer’s, nor the employee’s fault. Certain health conditions may also be considered just cause for leaving a job. 

For example, an employee with a condition that impairs their ability to perform a current job as assigned, but is still able to work in another type of job. Another example might be a machinist who develops arthritis and is still able to work, but will not be able to perform the functions of his or her current job. 

Does Quitting for Health Reasons Qualify as “Just Cause”?

Another situation that may be considered just cause for leaving a job is to take care of a family member with a long-term illness. Each state has its own definition of a “just cause” for an employee quitting their job, so you will have to work directly with your state. What is considered discrimination or an unsafe work environment in one state may not be considered so in another. 

The same goes for personal reasons for leaving a job. Though you should never stay in a negative work environment, it’s important to know you may not receive unemployment benefits if you leave. If you are unsure about whether or not your reason for quitting will be considered a just cause, you should contact your state unemployment agency for guidance.

Eligibility Team

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