There are lots of reasons for leaving a job. The best reason is getting a better one. Who could blame you for taking advantage of a better opportunity?
Some workplaces are so toxic and dysfunctional that employees suffer as long as possible and then just have to get out. Forget the high pay, cushy office, impressive title and company with global name recognition. Just get me out of here! How you conduct yourself before making your escape can have an effect on eligibility for an important post-employment benefit. Unemployment compensation.
Federal Unemployment Compensation (UC) pays a percentage of an employee’s working wage for a period of time after they lose a job. The maximum number of weeks of eligibility was 26 weeks. With extensions and several tiers of compensation, Federally-funded Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) now pays up to 73 weeks of unemployment compensation for eligible participants.
Unemployment compensation provides a safety net for those workers who are looking for a new job. While the monthly benefit varies depending on the individual and location, the monthly check can help pay the bills and put gas in the car to make job interviews. UC isn’t automatic. You have to apply for it, and in some instances it’s a sure thing. However, in other circumstances, UC can be denied or reduced.
If you can’t take it anymore on the job, make sure you’ll be eligible for this important benefit once you leave. If layoffs are coming, hang in there and you may just get a free pass out the door and to the unemployment office. If you leave that toxic job, you may qualify for benefits as a victim of constructive discharge. Difficult to prove and more difficult to endure, constructive discharge occurs when an employer makes the work environment so unbearable that any reasonable person would resign. Asking or requiring employees to do something illegal or having to work in an intolerable or unsafe work environment are possible grounds. Even though you leave your job voluntarily, you may be eligible for UC.
Not so if you’re fired for cause. A termination for poor performance or for violating company policy can be grounds for denial or reduction in benefits. Read the employee handbook—the section that deals with terminations. Most companies handbooks have a list of violations that warrant immediate termination. Theft, insubordination, drinking on the job, violence and a host of others can get you fired and ineligible for UC. The acknowledgement you sign when you get your handbook at orientation is your pledge to read, understand and abide by everything that is in the handbook. It doesn’t matter if you never took the time to read the handbook. You’re responsible.
Leaving a job on good terms is important for many reasons. Your best reference for a new job is your present employer. And don’t spend your last days taking revenge on your miserable co-workers. Years down the road, you may find that a former co-worker is now the hiring manager for what could be your dream job. While no one wants to be dependent on an unemployment compensation check, leaving a job under good circumstances and through no fault of your own can improve your chances of collecting a check and finding another job.
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