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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 110425
Experience:  20+ Years of Employment Law Experience
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If an employer offers an early retirement to employees due

Customer Question

if an employer offers an early retirement to employees due to reduction in force, can the employee who accepts the early retirement receive unemployment benefits in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania? The employer offered the early retirement incentive as long as the employee met any of the categories the employer provided.
JA: Because employment law varies from place to place, can you tell me what state this is in?
Customer: pennyslvania
JA: Is the employment agreement "at will," union, full time or part time?
Customer: full time and union approval
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: i filed for unemployment in pennsylvania after accepting an early retirement when the employer offered the early retirement due to reduction in force. Unemployment denied me because they said I "voluntarily quit my job" by accepting the early retirement, even though the employer initiated it to get employyes who've been on the job long enough and meeting their criterias of early retirement.
Submitted: 1 month ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 month ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
No, when an employee accepts retirement, early or otherwise, from the base period employer, they are ineligible for unemployment benefits. You cannot claim unemployment benefits from any employer that you have taken retirement from. So once you take the retirement, you cannot collect unemployment on that employer, who is considered your "base period employer."
Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Based on Diehl v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Rev, No. 51 MAP 2011 (Pa. Dec. 28, 2012), the court agreed with Diehl, noting that the term "layoff", although undefiend in the statute, applied to both temporary and permanent employment terminations. Noting that any ambiguities in the statue should be construed in the employee's favor, the court determined that early retirement appeared to "fit within this definition" because it was a termination of employment that was offered at the will of the employer. Accordingly, the court overruled the longstanding interpretation of the voluntary layoff provision, holding instead, that employees who accept an early retirement plan offered pursuant to an employer initiated workforce reduction may be eiligible to obtain unemployment compensation benefits.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 month ago.
Thank you for your reply.
The issue is if the employee took the early retirement option and as the court said the early retirement would have to not be "voluntary." So if you were going to be laid off regardless of taking the offer, then yes, Diehl, would apply and you would need to file an appeal with unemployment immediately and seek a hearing and prove that the retirement was not voluntary and you essentially had no choice as you would have been terminated even had you not taken the early retirement.
Customer: replied 1 month ago.
It's a voluntarily early retirement offered by the employer, why is the employee not eligible for unemployment? Early voluntary retirement from my employer is "when agency is undergoing a major reduction in force, transfer of function, or reorganization. Am very confused. But thanks anyways.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 month ago.
Thank you for your reply.
You would be entitled only if you took it in lieu of being terminated. So, you would have to show you were in the number that would have been part of the RIF and you took the early voluntary retirement in lieu of being terminated under the RIF.

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