Those who are eligible for benefits because they've worked and earned the
minimum amount required in their state, and because they are available to work,
can still be disqualified from receiving benefits, depending on how and why they
lost their jobs. Generally, unemployment benefits are designed for people who
are laid off because the employer doesn't have enough work for them, or who lose
their jobs because of something the employer did wrong.
So, a worker will be disqualified for benefits if:
- The worker turned down a "suitable" job offer during the period
of unemployment. "Suitable" work generally means something
appropriate for the worker's prior training, experience, and salary level,
but those who have been unemployed for a long time are expected to be less
picky as time passes.
- The worker was fired for misconduct. This can mean violation of a specific
work rule, or violation of an "unwritten rule" that the employee
could be expected to know (for example, stealing, insubordination, excessive
unexcused absences etc.) In most situations involving misconduct you should
of warnings, progressive
discipline, etc., that will enable you to easily prove what happened and
keep the worker from receiving benefits at your expense. However, be aware
that poor performance or incompetence is not usually considered misconduct.
Although you have the right to fire a poor performer, he or she will
probably be able to collect unemployment.
- The worker left the job voluntarily, without a good cause connected to the
job. In all states, a worker who quits because the employer does something
nasty like harassing or discriminating against him or her, or making a
significant change in wages, hours, job duties, location, or other working
conditions, has "good cause" to quit and won't be denied benefits.
States differ in their interpretation of whether "good cause"
includes quitting for health-related or personal reasons such as a spouse's
relocation — consult your attorney for the most up-to-date rules that
apply to your area.
- The worker is unemployed because of a strike or other work stoppage caused
by a labor dispute.
- The worker is receiving workers' compensation payments, social security
payments, a private pension, or severance pay.
- The worker has lied on the benefit claim or has omitted some important
information, in order to get or increase benefits.