Can I collect unemployment if I leave my job due to stress?

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Can I collect unemployment if I leave my job due to stress?

I’ve just been released to go back to work after a 4.5 month claim under short term disability due to a very high stress level job. I’ve called the employer stating I’ve been released to return, but I’m sure neither of us wants to continue the employment as the stress just will not end there. Will I have a problem collecting unemployment?

Asked on June 15, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If you leave (or do not return to work) voluntarily--i.e. not working is your idea--then you are not eligible for unemployment insurance. It doesn't matter if the reason is a good one--in this case, high stress; it still would be considered your voluntary choice to not work and you could not get the UI. Once in a while, if someone "chooses" to not work  because it's unreasonable to work in that circumstance, they may be able to get UI, but that's rare, and it's usually in cases such as being transferred to a location 2 or 3 hours away, so that the commute is no longer feasible. In particular, saying you can't work due to stress is not something that the unemployment office or labor department would look favorably upon in terms of granting UI, since *millions* of people could, truthfully, say that their job is very stressful and affects their health. If stress were a reason to leave work and get UI, all of us would do it at some point or another--it would be too difficult to draw a line between people who are suffering very serious adverse health consequences beyond their control and people who are "merely" highly stressed and negatively impacted.

If you do quit, you could certainly try to apply for UI--there's no harm in trying--but be prepared that this is not the sort of situation where UI is normally available.


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