Under what circumstances can you quit your job and still be eligible to receive unemployment?

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Under what circumstances can you quit your job and still be eligible to receive unemployment?

I am a salaried manager. My employer has dramatically increased my hours, and scheduling when I am unavailable. I have 2 small children and I cannot get overnight daycare. It is impossible for me to work some of the shifts. If I quit, would I have a claim for unemployment?

Asked on March 7, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

In IL, if you quit your job you can only get unemployment benefits if you left for "good cause." This means that you must have a very good reason why you quit.  The reason must be serious enough to make a reasonable person in the same situation leave the job and must be based on something that your employer did.  Among reasons considered to be good cause for voluntarily leaving employment are: changes in working conditions that make the job unbearable, and changes in work shifts which cause child care or transportation problems.

However, before quitting, you must try to resolve the problem with your boss.  It is advisable to keep records of this by sending a letter to your employer stating the problem and asking to find a mutually acceptable solution.  Additionally, the letter should explain the problem in detail (be as specific as possible).  And don't forget to date it.

If you are unsure of your rights, contact the IL Department of Labor or see if you can arrange for a consultation with an employment law attorney (an hour or so of their time might be all that you need).

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You should speak to an employment attorney, who can evaluate your situation in detail--the facts are everything in a matter like this. There is a doctrine called "constructive termination," under which someone is held to be "fired" (and eligible for unemployment compensation) if the employer made his or her job effective impossible or unreasonable. Usually, however, that has to do changing shifts (e.g. day to night) or location of work (e.g. a former 30 minute commute is now 2 hours each way). However--and especially for salaried employees, who are regulary expected to work more for no additional compensation--it is usually the case that simply increasing hours does not qualify. Again. though, it all depends on the facts, and what specifically has been done. Good luck.


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