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

UPDATED: Jun 15, 2011

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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