Quit and Collect Unemployment?

January 25, 2021

As a general rule, your employee cannot quit and collect unemployment benefits. There is an exception to that rule for employees who quit because working conditions are so intolerable that a reasonable employee would feel forced to resign; in addition, the Texas Workforce Commission allows workers to resign and collect unemployment benefits due to unsafe work conditions, although in our experience it is a difficult standard for workers to meet.

On Friday, President Biden issued an executive order directing the Department of Labor to “consider clarifying that workers have a federally guaranteed right to refuse employment that will jeopardize their health and if they do so, they will still qualify for unemployment insurance.”  Nothing has occurred as of yet allowing workers to quit and collect unemployment benefits because they believe their health is threatened.  But such a directive may be issued soon. If so, the key will be whether the federal standard relaxes the worker’s burden of proof to collect benefits.

In the meantime, now is the time to examine your work conditions to ensure they follow current federal and local standards for providing a safe work environment.

Stay safe and keep the course.  And please let us know if we can help.

Thanks, Jack, Elizabeth and Jim