Eligible? Archives

“If laid off and offered a lower job, will declining it result in losing severance or unemployment benefits?”

Published on May 28th, 2014 by Alan L Sklover

Question: Dear Alan: My husband was informed that his position will soon be eliminated due to restructuring following a recent company acquisition. A lower-paying position at the company was identified which is available for him to apply for, and he will be given preferential consideration for this job. 

We are wondering about negative consequences of his applying for this job. What happens if (1) he fails to apply? (2) applies, and does not get it? or (3) applies, is offered the position, and declines it? 

Anchorage, Alaska

Answer: Dear Denise: Yours are common questions and ones that surely produce anxiety. Most of the answers to your questions can be best determined by inquiring to Human Resources, and to your state’s unemployment benefits agency. That said, let me do my best to provide you with the guidance to begin:

1. Severance questions are best answered by review of your employer’s Severance Plan. When employers engage in a downsizing or layoff, most have first prepared what is commonly called a Severance Plan, which is a list of the “rules and regulations of who gets paid what.” Employers do this in good part so they can prevent employees saying that they treated different people differently due to “illegal or improper reasons” such as discrimination, retaliation, or harassment. 

Your first place to look for answers to your three questions about severance eligibility is your husband’s company’s severance plan. It should be available upon request from his employer’s Human Resources staff, or possibly online at his employer’s internal website.

By the way, Human Resources may direct you to a shorter, abridged version of the Severance Plan called a Summary Plan Description (or “SPD” for short.) Chances are that an SPD will not have the answers you need; request a copy of the full Severance Plan, or digital access to one. 

We offer a 94-Point Master Severance Negotiation Checklist to make sure you don’t miss any severance-related issues or fail to spot problems in severance agreements. Sure helps to reduce anxiety! To obtain a copy, just [click here.] Delivered by Email – Instantly!

2. If the Severance Plan is not available, or does not exist, or does not answer your questions, your questions should be submitted to Human Resources in writing. Some employers, especially smaller employers, may not have a written Severance Plan. At times, it may be difficult to locate a copy. Sometimes it does not contain the information you seek. In any of these circumstances, your questions are best submitted to Human Resources in writing, and most especially in an email to the Head or Director of Human Resources. They should be able to provide the answers you seek. 

Smaller employers may not have a Human Resources department. If that is the case, your severance-related questions should be directed to a member of Senior Management, such as the Chief Operating Officer, Office Manager, CEO or owner.

Deadlines are important; don’t let your severance deadline expire. To help you ask for more time, we offer our Model Request for More Time to Review/Sign Your Severance Agreement. It shows you “What to Say and How to Say It.”™ To obtain a copy, just [click here.] Delivered by Email – Instantly!  

3. A very important factor to consider – because the employer and unemployment agency will surely both consider it – is this: How “different” or “lower” is the other job that is available? Many different factors go into what consequences might flow from a laid-off employee not applying for, or not accepting, an open position. The term most often used by employers, by state unemployment agencies, and by Courts is whether the available job is “suitable employment.” 

For example, an 88-year old great-grandmother who was a secretary for an oil company would almost surely not be denied severance or unemployment benefits if she declined a different job working as an oil rig construction worker. Likewise, a warehouse manager in Illinois would likely be unlikely to lose severance or unemployment benefits because he turned down an open position with the same company’s warehouse in Pakistan. Neither would be deemed “suitable employment” for severance or unemployment benefits. 

On the other hand, a near identical job that paid $10 a week less, or had a smaller desk, would surely be deemed “suitable employment.”

4. Eligibility for Unemployment Benefits for someone offered a “lower” or “lower-paying” position will depend almost exclusively on whether it is deemed “suitable employment.” Suitable employment” is an imprecise term, and may be viewed quite differently by different people. It may vary from one part of the country to another, and may mean different things to different people. Factors looked to include (i) whether the employee has experience or training for the available position, (ii) how much lower the wages are, (iii) whether the hours are changed from daytime to nighttime, or vice versa, (iv) the degree of commuting required, and (v) the degree of hazardousness between the two different positions.

Applying for Unemployment Benefits can be confusing! Eliminate the confusion, and make sure you don’t forget anything – use our 132-Point Guide & Checklist for Unemployment Benefits. To get your copy, just [click here.] Delivered by Email – Instantly!

5. While you have a Severance Plan and Human Resources Department to advise you as to severance, Unemployment Benefit agencies rarely, if ever, provide “advance opinions” on eligibility. Just bear in mind that, when applying for Unemployment Benefits, you have to contend with a government agency, meaning (i) a larger bureaucracy, (ii) rules that often are not followed carefully, and (iii) far less sense of personal accountability. Thus, you stand on firmer ground when depending on employer “rules and regulations” than when you put yourself before state Unemployment agencies. 

On the other hand, you have an automatic right to appeal unemployment benefits denial, which often does work to the employee’s benefit.

Want to apply for Unemployment Benefits, but afraid your former employer may oppose your Unemployment Benefits applications? Use our “Model Letter Requesting Employer’s Assurance Not to Contest Your Unemployment Application” with Ten Great Reasons. “What to Say, How to Say It.”™ To get your copy, just [click here.] Delivered by Email – Instantly!  

Hope this this is helpful. Good luck to your husband in his upcoming job transition, whatever he decides to do. 

My Best to You,
Al Sklover 

P.S.: Our Sales Affiliates make real income by recommending our Model Letters, Memos, Checklists and Agreements to their friends, family and colleagues. You can, too. Just [click here.] 

Repairing the World,
One Empowered – and Productive – Employee at a Time™

© 2014, Alan L. Sklover All Rights Reserved. Commercial Use Prohibited.

“Compensation lowered; can I resign and collect Unemployment Benefits?”

Published on January 28th, 2014 by Alan L Sklover

Question: My employer recently lowered my commission plan without my consent, and now has threatened to also lower my salary by 16%. 

If I refuse to work for the lowered salary and commissions, can I collect Unemployment Benefits? Thank you for your help. 

Deer Park, New York 

Answer: Dear Rob: Many, many people worldwide are having their compensation cut, and so I am receiving many questions like yours. Unfortunately, as explained below, there is no simple, “black-and-white,” clear answer to your question, but let me give you my best explanation, from which you can make your best decision:       

1. Unemployment Benefits are provided to people who have either (a) lost their job without fault of their own, or (b) resigned with a truly good reason. As a general rule, Unemployment Benefits are reserved for people who lose their jobs due to no fault of their own, or who resign with a good-enough reason. They are not available for those who resign “without good reason.” So, we say to ourselves, “What is a good-enough reason to resign, and still collect Unemployment Benefits?”  

Well, surely you can collect unemployment benefits if you can show that, as examples, (a) your workplace is so dangerous that you truly feared possible loss of life or health if you remained; (b) you were frequently subjected to severe sexual harassment or physical abuse; (c) your job is still available to you, but requires you move your family 5,000 miles away, or to a different country; or (d) your compensation has been reduced from $50,000 a year to minimum wage per hour. These are extreme examples of “good reason”; the less severe changes – like yours – are less clear regarding whether they make you eligible to collect Unemployment Benefits.   

For great info and insight, consider viewing our 12-minute Sklover-On-Demand Video entitled “Unemployment Insurance Benefits – The 12 Basics You Need to Know.” To do so, just [click here.] 

2. In most states, a truly good reason is a “substantial violation or change in the terms of employment”; however, whether your situation qualifies as a “substantial violation” depends on your particular facts, events and circumstances. I often tell people that, in many instances, “In legal analysis, the facts are more important than the law, because quite often the facts determine which law applies and how it does so.” Your situation represents a pretty good example of that.  

Here are four actual case decisions made in the past by the Unemployment Benefits authorities in your State of New York:

a. Case Decision: Where an employer promised an employee an increase in salary commensurate with an employee’s newly-added responsibilities, but never paid it, and the employee resigned as a result, the employee was deemed eligible for Unemployment Benefits.

b. Case Decision: Where an employer promised a wage increase after promoting an employee to a more responsible position, but never paid it, and the employee resigned as a result, the employee was found to be eligible for Unemployment Benefits.

c. Case Decision: Where an employer promised a wage increase, but due to business conditions was unable to provide it, and the employee was already at the highest compensation for that position, and the compensation the employee was being paid was about the same being paid other such people in the industry, and the employee resigned, the employee was found not eligible for Unemployment Benefits.  

d. Case Decision: Where an employer promised to give a precise pay increase, and agreed with the employee on the precise date on which the pay increase was to begin, and failed to pay it, and the employee resigned as a result, the employee was found to be eligible for Unemployment Benefits.    

There are two “lessons” to be drawn from the case decisions noted above: (i) First, every different fact can make a big difference in the way a case is decided; and (ii) Second, Judges are people, too, and each Judge sees things a little differently than other Judges might see them. 

3. If your salary was lowered 16%, and your commissions were lowered, say, 20%, based only on those facts I would view your chances of being found eligible to be on the low side. It is simply impossible to predict with certainty whether or not you would be found eligible for Unemployment  Benefits.  

However, (a) if business at your employer was slow, and/or (b) you were not given any guarantee of compensation remaining the same, and/or (c) you were not given any new responsibilities, and/or (d) you are being paid commensurate with others in your company and your industry, then you would have a good chance of being denied Unemployment Benefits. 

On the other hand, (a) if you were given assurances of stable income and/or (b) you were given new responsibilities, and/or (c) you are being underpaid compared to others in your company and your industry, those factors would surely be in your favor. 

4. “Fairness” and “sympathy” can also play a significant role in these decisions.  In my experience I have seen other facts – which seem unrelated – play a big role in the decision of the Unemployment Hearing Judge or Administrative Law Judge who makes the ultimate decision. These include (a) if you are the sole financial provider for your family, (b) if your compensation reduction made you unable to provide for the welfare of children, (c) if you seem to be respectful and honest, or, on the other hand, (d) if you seem disrespectful, lazy and simply disinterested in working. As I noted above, it is important to remember that Judges are people, too. 

5.There is one alternative available to you that you may not have thought of: Consider requesting that your employer not contest your application for Unemployment Benefits.  There are many times and circumstances in which, for any number of reasons, it is just best for the employee to leave the job. In fact, it is just possible that this is really what your employer is seeking.  

For this reason, you might consider requesting, in writing, that your employer not contest your unemployment application if and when you leave. In order for an employer to reduce overall employee headcount, and not pay severance, this is sometimes seen as a WIN-WIN solution. Of course, you must be careful to be clear that this, in itself, is not a resignation.  

Want to apply for Unemployment Benefits, but afraid your former employer may oppose your Unemployment Benefits applications? Use our “Model Letter Requesting Employer’s Assurance Not to Contest Your Unemployment Application” with Ten Great Reasons. “What to Say, How to Say It.”™ To get your copy, just [click here.] Delivered by Email – Instantly!

 Rob, what you face is being faced by so many other people these days. While I can’t answer your question with precision, I hope this information helps you make your own decision regarding what to do. Please consider telling your friends, family and colleagues about our blog – we’d REALLY appreciate that!! Oh, yes, and tell them, too, that subscribing to our blog is free, fun and helpful. 

My Best,
Al Sklover

P.S.: Applying for Unemployment Benefits can be confusing! Eliminate the confusion, and make sure you don’t forget anything – use our 132-Point Guide & Checklist for Unemployment Benefits. To get your copy, just [click here.] Delivered by Email – Instantly!  

Repairing the World,
One Empowered – and Productive – Employee at a Time™

© 2014, Alan L. Sklover All Rights Reserved. Commercial Use Prohibited.

“Seven factors decide whether a business owner can collect unemployment benefits.”

Published on November 18th, 2013 by Alan L Sklover

Question: Sir: I am going through a hostile takeover of my business in which I own 47%. My partner owns 48%, and one of our employees owns the other 5%. Well, they have gotten together, and teamed up against me, and now they have stopped my pay and cancelled my health insurance.

Can I get unemployment benefits? Thanks! 

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 

Answer: Dear Russell: That is a really great question, because so many people ask it, and because so many people erroneously believe the answer is “No.” As you will see, the answer is neither “yes” nor “no,” but a bit complicated and generally depends on Seven Factors. Here’s the analysis:   

1. Eligibility rules for unemployment compensation vary from state to state in the U.S. Although the U.S. federal government assists in the funding of unemployment compensations programs, financial assistance for those who have lost their jobs is essentially a state function. Because of this, each state in the U.S. has the right to set its own rules for eligibility. 

Each state’s procedures, rules and applications to file for unemployment benefits are easily found on the internet. By entering the name of your state and the words “unemployment benefits” into any search engine, chances are you will come upon your state’s website devoted to unemployment benefits. In my experience, they are all quite user-friendly. 

For great info and insight, consider viewing our 12-minute Sklover-On-Demand Video entitled “Unemployment Insurance Benefits – The 12 Basics You Need to Know.” To do so, just [click here.]

2. Whether or not people are entitled to unemployment benefits generally depends on “Five Basic Factors.” These five basic factors are whether the applicant was: (1) an employee, (2) who involuntarily lost his or her job, (3) through no fault of his or her own (4) is ready, willing and able to work, and (5) is actively seeking work. I believe all states, to varying degrees, use these five basic factors in assessing eligibility for unemployment benefits.

Very few states have a blanket rule that says, one way or the other, “Someone who owned a business cannot collect unemployment benefits.” If that was the case, then for example, an employee of IBM who owned one share of IBM stock would be precluded from collecting unemployment benefits on the mere basis of that ownership, which would make no sense whatsoever. While ownership – partial or complete – of a business might count against that employee seeking unemployment benefits, that alone will rarely be the sole test for eligibility.

Remember, though, that rules vary from state to state, and other factors may come into play in your state. It is possible that ownership alone – partial or complete – might be the “determining factor” in your state.       

3. In many states, there is a general “presumption” that owners of businesses cannot collect unemployment benefits. I have seen many state laws that provide, in general, that an owner of a business – especially if he or she is a sole owner, with no partners or co-shareholders – is ineligible for unemployment benefits.

This presumption seems to arise from the common sense view that “A person who has laid himself or herself off has not really “involuntarily” lost his or her job. But, here, too, there are exceptions.

The presumption against “owners” being “unemployment-eligible” also seem to reflect the common practice of many business owners: they usually do not pay “payroll taxes” on themselves, that is, their businesses do not pay unemployment taxes for themselves, and so they cannot later claim those benefits.   

Though I am not licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania, my review of Pennsylvania law suggests that Pennsylvania does not disqualify owners of businesses from collecting unemployment benefits, but does subject them to the usual Five Basic Factors noted above.

4. Even in states with the general presumption against “owner-eligibility,” benefits are often granted to unemployed business owners if they satisfy Two Additional Factors: (6) the company paid in unemployment taxes for the owner over the years, as if he or she was an employee, and (7) he or she lost his or her job truly involuntarily, provided, of course, the Five Basic Factors noted above are met.  If (6) the business did contribute every week to the state unemployment fund for the owner-employee, and (7) the owner truly did lose his or her job against his or her will, and, of course, the owner meets the other criteria noted above, the owner may be found eligible for unemployment benefits.

In one state whose law I am familiar with, if a company “voluntarily” declares bankruptcy, its owners cannot collect unemployment insurance, because “voluntarily” filing for bankruptcy seems to be “voluntarily” losing your job.  However, in that same state, if a company is “involuntarily” brought into bankruptcy court by its creditors – against the will and preference of the owners – then unemployment benefits are granted to owners of these companies, because the owners of that company did, in fact, lose their jobs “involuntarily.”

5. Before you apply for unemployment benefits, consider asking your former partners not to contest your application. Whether or not you are eligible for unemployment benefits, it is always easier to be successful in this regard if your former “employer” does not contest your application for the benefits. For this reason you might want to consider urging your former partners not to act in this potentially adversarial way.

You might be helped by using our “Model Letter Requesting Employer’s Assurance Not to Contest Your Unemployment Application” with Ten Great Reasons. To get your copy, just [click here.] Delivered by Email – Instantly!  

6. When you apply for unemployment benefits, make it VERY clear that you satisfy all of the eight (8) criteria noted above. If you meet most or all of the above eight criteria, you should apply for unemployment benefits because there is no downside to your doing so. When you do fill out and submit your unemployment application, and especially if you are required to either answer additional questions or attend a hearing, do everything you can to emphasize that you meet most or all of these eight (8) criteria.

7. One thing is for sure: You will never know unless and until you try. As it is in so many aspects of life, you will never be sure if you are eligible for unemployment benefits unless and until you try. I encourage you to apply and when you do so take these points – and especially the Eight Factors noted above, into account.

Applying for Unemployment Benefits can be confusing! Eliminate the confusion and make sure you don’t forget anything – use our 132-Point Guide & Checklist for Unemployment Benefits. To get your copy, just [click here.] Delivered by Email – Instantly! 

Russell, I hope this proves helpful, and that  you will find yourself in better times quite soon. Thanks for writing in, and I wish you the best.   

My Best,
Al Sklover

P.S.: If you would like to speak with me directly about this or other subjects, I am available for 30-minute, 60-minute, or 120-minute telephone consultations, just [click here.] 

Repairing the World –
One Empowered and Productive Employee at a Time™

© 2013 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.

“Stress from work is killing me. Please help!!”

Published on May 3rd, 2013 by Alan L Sklover

Question: I have been employed by a company for almost 5 years and the stress is becoming unbearable to the point that when I come home, I just want to curl up in a ball and be left alone.

I am almost 60 years old and I just can’t handle stress like I could at 25 or 30. I even talked with a therapist for the first time yesterday and confirmed that by me staying there it is doing much more harm than good. My mental health is more important than the job.

I have no work performance issues and in fact if my boss knew that I am considering leaving she would be shocked. I am concerned that if I quit, could I still get unemployment benefits? This situation is affecting my relationship with my wife and I have to decide very soon as the job is not worth what it is doing to me.

Please help!!  

St. Paul, Minnesota

Answer: Dear Ken: For a very long time I have counseled people in your situation. Though I am not a therapist and do not claim any training or expertise in therapy, I believe that what I have learned from my experiences helping clients in your situation may be of some help to you. I sure hope so.            

1. First, congratulate yourself: Despite your great stress, it is a personal triumph and a clear indication of your innate survival skills that your values and priorities remain solidly intact. I would like to express to you that I, for one, am very impressed with the fact that you continue to bear in mind that your health and marriage must come first, both before and above your job. The applicable saying goes something like this: “Good health and good family will get you through times of no job much better than a job will get you through times of ill health and no family.” Your “inner compass” on this point is surely grounded, and I for one am certain that you will survive this ordeal.

So, count your blessings and when you do so, know that your good values and healthy perspective are among your greatest blessings, and the ones that will safeguard your continued health and family relations.  

2. Second, making a “Plan of Positive Action,” however tentative, will in itself relieve some anxiety, and is a great place to start. What do I mean by “Plan of Positive Action?” Quite simply, steps you can take, all of which are positive to health, emotions, finances and career, to go from where you are – entirely stressed out – to where you will be better off – out of your present stressful situation at work, perhaps in a different department at the company, or collecting unemployment benefits, maybe in a new job elsewhere, potentially opening up your own business, or even collecting disability benefits.

However simple it may be at first, draw up a list of positive steps to take to get you where it is you want to go. I hope that this response to your submitted question will help you begin to do just that.

I often quote the folk singer Joan Baez on this point: “Action is the antidote to despair.” When you are feeling “stuck” in a bad situation, anxiety increases, often to the point of panic. But taking steps to get you “unstuck” from that bad situation will reduce the anxiety and start the feelings of “control” that make each of us feel so much better.

Making a plan is positive; acting in a reactive manner, without direction, is negative.

3. As your “first step” you really do need to find positive ways to reduce your stress level. For everyone, stress can be a very difficult problem, and can even get you sick. Being in my sixties, myself, I can attest to the fact that stress can get to you and affect your health more than it did when you were younger. Among the positive ways to reduce stress, anxiety and panic you can simply walk a lot, (I do so for an hour every morning), pray, meditate, practice yoga, go to therapy, and spend time with friends and family. So long as it is not “negative” things like alcohol, cigarettes, gambling, or drugs (legal or illegal), take a bit of time to do stress reduction. Make doing so a regular daily habit. It will surely pay off. 

Rest and sleep are positive; curling up in a ball and ignoring others, is negative. 

4. The second step in your “Plan of Positive Action” should be to “Acquire a Positive Plan Partner.” Whether it is your wife, your therapist, your brother, a close friend, your rabbi, priest, minister or imam, find a person in whom you trust, in whose judgment you have faith, and who has the time and patience available to act as your sounding board on your Plan of Positive Action.    

There will be times you feel lost. There will be times you feel overwhelmed. There will be times you will feel frightened. We all have these feelings, even though yours may seem magnified and particularly vexing at this time in your life. Having a “partner” to lean on for needed support, guidance and direction will be a very, very helpful source of confidence for you.

Finding support, encouragement and an ear to listen is positive; “going it alone” and avoiding others is negative.

5. As your third step, please consider taking some time off – if not now, very soon.  Over the years, our society has put into place certain safeguards for employees facing difficulties of different kinds, including the kind you are now facing:

(a)    Paid sick days or accrued vacation time: If you have paid sick time or accrued vacation time available to you, by all means take a day, two or more to reduce the immediate pressures on your mental and physical health. It is likely available to you, and I urge you to consider doing so to protect your health and marriage.

(b) FMLA: You can likely take a leave of absence from work, unpaid if necessary, under the federal Family Medical Leave Act (often called “FMLA”), which provides up to 12 weeks off for such reasons, although without pay;

We offer a “Model Memo Requesting FMLA Information, Forms and Procedures” from your Human Resources representative. If you would like a copy to adapt to your own particular facts and circumstances, just [click here.] “What to Say and How to Say It.”™ Delivered Immediately by Email, 24 Hours a Day.

(c) EAP: in many companies there is a Employee Assistance Program, which is supposed to be confidential, to assist employees facing difficulties with substance abuse, emotional difficulties or similar hurdles, through which you and your employer and they might devise other means of gaining relief for you. Consider finding out if your company offers this “safety valve.”

(d) Short Term Disability: Your therapist can probably speak with you, and maybe even assist you, with filing a claim for short-term disability, which would give you time off with at least some incoming pay. 

Taking some time to calm down and “chill out” is surely a positive step forward. 

6. Now the real “Positive Action Steps” begin: Consider requesting from your boss or HR – in an email – that they consider assisting in lowering the intolerable stress by altering your work assignments, your work schedule, your work environment, who you report to, or your work group. Ken, in your note to me you indicated that you do not think your boss knows you are feeling great stress. Based on that, it seems to me that she has not been asked to assist in reducing it in one way or another. Your asking her to do that will help you in three separate ways:  

(i) It will make a permanent record that you brought to your employer’s attention the stress-causing situation, your personal difficulties with that stressful situation, and that you did what you could to reduce or eliminate the problem.  

(ii) It might just work. Your boss, HR or other employer representatives just might take the steps to effectively deal with the source of your stress at work. Hey – that          can’t be too bad a thing to happen.

(iii)If after your request, your employer does not take effective steps to assist your stress, you will have a much better basis for our “Involuntary Resignation” – and all   the advantages that offers – and to collect Unemployment Benefits, too. 

7. Also, consider the very real potential value and potential advantages of presenting not a “Resignation,” but an “Involuntary Resignation.” I don’t know if you are familiar with our concept – which we invented – of “involuntary resignation,” but it sure would be a good idea for you to review my Q&A’s, Newsletters and Videos on the subject available on this blogsite. 

To view our entire blogsite Resource Center Section of Q&A’s, Newsletters and free YouTube Videos on “Involuntary Resignation,” just [click here.]  

The idea behind “Involuntary Resignation” is to make a record that your leaving is not voluntary, at all, but something you have no choice about . . . which seems quite true from what you have written. Some people must “involuntarily resign” due to health, stress, fear of abuse, being forced to engage in improper or illegal activities, sexual harassment, or many other situations at work. When doing so, it is essential to create a clear, written record of the “involuntariness” of the situation and resignation. 

We offer a “Model Involuntary Resignation” letter that you can use if you decide to submit your own Involuntary Resignation. To obtain a copy – instantly by email – just [click here.] “What to Say and How to  Say It”™ 24 Hours a Day. 

While there are no “guarantees,” if you are going to resign, by making your resignation an expressly “involuntary” one, you very much increase your chances of receiving one or more of the following after leaving, as a kind of “severance” in exchange for a release of claims: 

  1. Unemployment Benefits, because they are usually awarded to those who resign with “good cause” and can prove they did with convincing emails, etc.;  
  2. Vesting of unvested stock, stock options and other equity;  
  3. Deferred income, earned bonuses and coming-due commissions;  
  4. Release from having to pay back educational and relocation monies previously received, as well as sign-on bonuses;  
  5. Pro rata bonus;  
  6. Voiding of Non-Competition Agreements;
  7. Continuation of health care; and even
  8. Possibly, severance. 

In the event you are initially unsuccessful in obtaining one or more of your desired objectives in submitting your own Involuntary Resignation, we offer a “Follow Up Letter to Voluntary Resignation.” To obtain a copy for your adaptation, just [click here.] Delivered Immediately by Email, 24 Hours a Day. 

8. Finally, an answer to your most pressing question: If you take steps 6 and 7 above, your chances of receiving Unemployment Benefits will increase a great deal. Unemployment Benefits are given to those who either (a) have lost their jobs to no fault of their own, such as in a mass layoff or workforce reduction, or (b) those who resign with good reason. What is “good reason?” Well, it is a circumstance at work that a reasonable person would consider intolerable. Sound familiar? 

If you have emails that show (a) you were suffering or in fear, (b) you brought the problem to your boss’s attention, (c) your boss did not take prompt remedial steps, (d) you resigned, but did so EXPRESSLY involuntarily, your chances of being found to have “resigned with good reason,” and thus awarded unemployment benefits.    

Bear in mind that it is clerks, not Judges or Juries, who make the initial decisions regarding granting Unemployment Benefits. In my experience, they want to see emails and other documents, and are very impressed with email evidence of “involuntariness,” as well as doctors’ and therapists’ letters.    

Applying for Unemployment Benefits can be confusing! Eliminate the confusion, and make sure you don’t forget anything – use our 132-Point Guide & Checklist for Unemployment Benefits. To get your copy, just [click here.] Delivered by Email – Instantly!

9. So, you see, there are many steps available to you that might ease, improve or even solve the problems you are facing at work and, if need be, receive Unemployment Benefits. With a little insight, a little inspiration and an ounce of faith, you can solve almost any problem at work, or at least make it a whole lot better than it is. Though difficult to see through the “fog of anxiety,” the solutions are there. It’s just a matter of calming down, making a plan, and following that plan.

Nothing is worth the stress you are facing, or the potential damage to your health, home and happiness that your workplace is giving you. 

10. A final, admittedly personal, note on the critical value of faith in such times. Being a person of faith – in one’s God, in one’s community and in one’s self – in my experience provides an extraordinary advantage in overcoming the negative effects of stress, fear, anxiety and hopelessness that are sometimes brought about by events and circumstances at work.   

Faith lets you put things into a larger perspective, an overall positive perspective that is better than the narrow and negative “view” you may, for the moment, have of things you are experiencing. Faith also gives you the lift that you need when everyone and everything around you seem to be letting you down.  

I do not know if you are a person of faith, Ken, or if you are experiencing a test of your faith, but I do want you to consider renewing your faith at this time. If you do so, I am certain you will begin to emerge from the dark and dense fog and fear you see all around you, into the bright sunlight and fresh air of what your life really offers.     

Ken, I truly hope that this has been of assistance to you, and that you understand that you do, indeed, have available to you several good steps to take. Know, too, that you are in my prayers. 

My Best to You,
Al Sklover 

P.S.: Your might be interested in obtain our (a) Involuntary Resignation, (b) Follow-Up to Involuntary Resignation, (c) 119-Point Checklist for Involuntary Resignation, all bundled in our “Ultimate Involuntary Resignation Package, ” which provides you all the benefits we have to offer on this subject, with a 19% savings. To obtain the complete set, just [click here.] Delivered by Email – Instantly – 24 Hours a Day.

Repairing the World –
One Empowered and Productive Employee at a Time ™

© 2013 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.

“Insulted, overworked, and benefits taken away– can I get unemployment?”

Published on December 4th, 2012 by Alan L Sklover

Question: The owner of the company I work for over the past 3 years has started to insult my intelligence verbally. And he has added literally 5 peoples’ jobs (from people he has fired) at a savings to him of about $300,000. He has put their responsibilities on me, without a raise in pay. Of course, I still have my other full-time responsibilities. 

When I was hired I had health benefits offered by the company which the company stopped paying benefits for, and all employees found out only by a letter from our former insurance company. 

I have never quit a job before and have a solid 12-year resume with no holes as far as history goes. How can I transition out quickly, and collect unemployment benefits? 


Oakland, California

Answer: Dear Michael: Your situation is a common one these days. People often find themselves “between a rock and a hard place,” that is, (a) their working conditions are intolerable, but (b) they need income, and they are afraid that leaving their jobs will result in their being denied unemployment benefits. What can be done? As always, you are best served by both (a) knowing the “rules,” and (b) “working within the rules.” Here are my thoughts: 

1. You probably are aware of the “general rule”: You are not eligible to receive unemployment benefits if you “voluntarily” resign from a job. Almost all states in the U.S., and all other countries, too, follow this general rule. Thus, unemployment benefits are reserved for people who have lost their jobs, due to no fault of their own, and not available to those who simply do not want to work, or find it inconvenient to do so. Note, though, the use of the word  “voluntarily,” because it is the operative word in this discussion. The fact is that many people resign and leave their jobs “involuntarily,” and many of them qualify and receive unemployment benefits.   

2. The exception to this “general rule” is this: If you were treated so badly that you really had no choice but to “involuntarily” resign, then you are generally considered eligible to receive unemployment benefits. That word “voluntarily” is the key to someone in your circumstances receiving unemployment benefits. If, for example, an employee was being so severely sexually harassed that he or she reasonably believed that a rape was imminent, then that would quite certainly make that employee eligible to receive unemployment benefits, even if he or she resigned. Likewise, if an employer required an employee to engage in illegal conduct, such as stealing money from customers, that too would probably make the employee eligible to receive unemployment benefits, even if he or she had resigned. The question is this: are the facts, events and circumstances of your treatment so compelling to justify your leaving your job, even if it is, at least technically, still available to you?  

Applying for Unemployment Benefits can be confusing! Clear the haze, and make sure you don’t forget anything – use our 132-Point Guide & Checklist for Unemployment Benefits. To get your copy, just [click here.] Delivered by Email – Instantly!

3. California State law has two requirements before a resigning employee is deemed eligible for unemployment benefits: (a) only if there was “good cause” for his or her resigning AND (b) also, if the employee made all reasonable attempts to solve the “good cause” problem. “Good cause” for leaving is defined in California law as “when a substantial motivating factor in causing the [employee] to leave work  . . .  is real, substantial and compelling and would cause a reasonable person genuinely desirous of retaining employment to leave work under the same circumstances.” In addition, the leaving employee must also try to resolve or ameliorate the “good cause” problem, and be prepared to show he or she did so. As you might imagine, the facts, events and circumstances of each person’s situation are unique, and must be explored. Just one fact – such as a threat of violence or an unwanted touching of the body – can make the difference.  

4. To be considered “good cause” for leaving in California, the reason for leaving must be “compelling to a reasonable person.” Compelling means that the employee’s reasons for quitting exerted so much pressure that it would have been unreasonable to expect him or her to remain with the employment. The “pressures” exerted upon the person may be (a) physical (as with health), (b) moral, (c) legal, (d) domestic, (e) economic, or otherwise. The question is this: “Would that reason cause a reasonable person, who was genuinely desirous of working, to leave work under the same circumstances?” This is what us lawyers refer to as a “reasonable person” standard.         

Incidentally, an employee can have more than one “compelling reason” to leave a job. 

5. Are your reason(s) for wanting to leave “compelling to a reasonable person?” Frankly, from your brief description of your situation I really can’t tell if your reasons are “compelling to a reasonable person.” If you were a client of mine, these are some of the questions I would ask you before I counseled you as to which path to follow:  

(i) Are the verbal insults to your intelligence: (a) causing you ulcers? (b) making you afraid for your safety? (c) perhaps so often and humiliating that you are becoming seriously depressed? (d) being made in the presence of your clients, colleagues or even family?  

(ii) Are the number of hours you are being forced to work: (a) an extra two hours a week? (b) an extra 20 hours a week? (c) an extra 50 hours a week? (d) seven days a week?  

(iii) Was the loss of health insurance benefits (a) retroactive? (b) the cause of your not being able to get medical care or medications without notice? (c) in violation of any agreement or law? (d) harmful to your children? (e) make it impossible to treat a current illness? 

(iv) Have other employees left their jobs for the same compelling reason(s)?

(v) Are there any other reasons you feel you must leave, including matters of (a) ethics, (b) emotional problems, (c) medical reasons, (d) family problems, (e) immorality, or (f) violations of law? 

For many people, it’s a great idea to ask your former employer not to oppose your Unemployment Benefits applications, and to give them great reasons why not to do that. Use our “Model Letter Requesting Employer’s Assurance Not to Contest Your Unemployment Application” with Ten Great Reasons. “What to Say, How to Say It.”™ To get your copy, just [click here.] Delivered by Email – Instantly!

6. Also, notice that California law provides that you must be able to show that you tried to solve or ameliorate the “compelling reason” to leave. In my experience, California is unusual in its requirement that the departing employee must not only have “good cause” to leave, but also must have tried to solve, get around, or in some way address the problem(s) he or she faced. Thus, it would be smart of you to send one or more emails to your employer (a) explaining the problems you face in how you are being treated, and (b) requesting a cessation or lessening of that problem. If he or she does not respond, or responds in anger, or fires you for making the respectful request, that could only help you in gaining unemployment benefits.   

7. Consider the potentially great value to you of our concept of “Involuntary Resignation.” We have invented and championed the concept of “involuntary resignation,” which is just what you may need to satisfy the requirement of the California law on eligibility for unemployment benefits. The concept is this: when you resign, make sure it is (a) in writing, (b) by email, and shows both (c) your “compelling reason” for leaving, and (d) your unsuccessful attempts to solve the problem. This may help you in two distinct ways: First, (i) it may convince your employer that your reasons for leaving are such that he or she would rather not contest your application for unemployment. Second, (ii) if your application for unemployment is either questioned by unemployment officials, or contested by your employer, you have a neat “package of evidence” supporting you with just what you need to prevail. 

For great info and insight, consider viewing our 12-minute Sklover-On-Demand Video entitled “Involuntary Resignation: Standing Up, Not Giving Up, When You Resign.” To do so, just [click here.]  

8. We also offer an “Involuntary Resignation” Model Letter you can obtain and use to adapt to your own facts, events and circumstances. On the “Model Letters” section of our blogsite, we offer a Model Letter you can use for just this purpose, although because you are in California, you may want to supplement it with your unsuccessful efforts to address your “compelling reason” to leave. To obtain a copy, just [click here.] It is one of our most popular Model Letters.  

Michael, there is no doubt that you are in a difficult situation. If it is so difficult to live with that you have written to me, my guess is that there are more facts, events and circumstances that you have not shared that could quite easily constitute “compelling reason to a reasonable person to leave.” While there is no guarantee that an “Involuntary Resignation” will gain you eligibility for unemployment benefits, there is one guarantee you can count on: it can only help. And helping you is what I sincerely hope I have done in this answer.

My best to you,
Al Sklover

P.S. One of our most popular “Ultimate Packages” of forms, letters and checklists is entitled “Ultimate Resignation Package” consisting of two Model Resignation Letters, a Model Involuntary Resignation Letter, a Memo to HR Pre-Exit Interview, and our 100-Point Pre-Resignation Checklist. To obtain a complete set, just [click here.] 

© 2012 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.

Alan L. Sklover

Alan L. Sklover

Employment Attorney
and Career Strategist
for over 35 years

Job Security and Career Success now depend on knowing how to navigate and negotiate to gain the most for your skills, time and efforts. Learn the trade secrets and 'uncommon common sense' of Attorney Alan L. Sklover, the leading authority on "Negotiating for Yourself at Work™".

Receive All Our Posts - It's Free!

Monthly Newsletter, Discounts, Events