Employment Law Questions? Ask an Employment Lawyer.
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Eligibility for unemployment benefits is determined based on whether the claimant is unemployed "through no fault of their own." Typically when a claimant quits they will be disqualified for benefits on the ground that they voluntarily initiated their own unemployment and thus are unemployed "through fault." However, a limited exception does exist to this general rule where the claimant can prove that they quit for reasons amounting to "good cause." The thing is, "good cause" is VERY hard to establish. Since unemployment benefits are funded from tax payer dollars, the unemployment office is extremely stringent about ensuring that the people who collect truly have no other options. UI benefits are not intended to subsidize a search for better employment.
A severe cutback in pay or benefits can sometimes amount to good cause for quitting. But since good cause if judged on a case by case basis, and since the unemployment office is so militant about claimants only being approved if they are unemployed through no fault of their own, you would be taking an enormous risk by quitting. The upside would be that you no longer have to work this unfavorable job and you are able to collect UI benefits that max out at $580 per week. The downside would be that you are denied UI benefits and have no way to support yourself. Add to this the fact that studies have shown it is easier to find a job when you are already employed (it has to do with being perceived to be "in demand") and it is very rarely the prudent thing to quit with the hope of collecting unemployment until you find a new job. Though I wish I could tell you otherwise, the better course of action is to start looking for a new job now and quit only once you've secured another offer.
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In any event, it was a pleasure assisting you and I would be glad to attempt to assist you further on this issue, or a new legal issue, if needed.
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