“How do I resign and still get unemployment benefits?”

Question: A few months ago my good working relationship with my boss changed by 180 degrees. Though six months ago she gave me a good review, she seems now to have made up her mind to make sure I am a failure.

I feel it is a very hostile environment, and the feedback I am getting is dishonest. Even the Human Resources personnel has said to me that I was treated unfairly and unprofessionally. 

Recently I was put on a Performance Improvement Plan (they called it a “Performance Management Plan”) that required me to complete in two weeks vague and unmeasurable goals that no person on earth could complete in four weeks. They told me that if I did not reach their unreachable goal, I would be terminated for not meeting performance expectations.

They also offered me a second option: stay for six weeks while I look for a new job, and then resign. I chose this second option in order to leave me with a “clean record,” and hopefully make myself eligible for unemployment benefits. 

While I did choose “flight” over “fight,” what do you suggest I put in my resignation letter in order to make myself eligible for unemployment benefits?       

Oakton, Virginia

Answer: Dear Lily:

The question you pose is a question on the minds of many people in your circumstances. Here are my suggestions:

a. First, ask that your employer agree not to contest your unemployment application. Most people in your circumstances don’t think of it, but sometimes you can get what you want by simply asking for it. So, I suggest you ask your Human Resources representative if he or she will agree, under the circumstances, not to contest your application for unemployment benefits. If he or she agrees, then you should politely thank – and confirm – in an email, such as ‘Thank you, so much, for your agreeing not to contest my unemployment application.”

For many people, it’s a great idea to ask your former employer not to oppose your Unemployment Benefits application, 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!

b. Second, your resignation letter should address what happened to you, and that you had no choice but to leave. As I think you know, leaving a job “voluntarily” will make you ineligible for unemployment benefits, but leaving a job “involuntarily,” for the right reasons, will not disqualify you. So, in your resignation letter, you should use words and phrases like “not my choice,” “involuntary,” and “hostility that I reported.” If your employer contests your application for unemployment benefits, your resignation letter will be one piece of evidence that you will be able to produce to unemployment officials who review your case, and it will be a strong piece of evidence in your favor.

If you would like to obtain a Model “Involuntary Resignation” Letter that you can adapt for your own use [click here].

c. Third, it seems to me you were “forced” into resigning in order to get six weeks more of employment. The “choice” you were given – immediate firing or resignation effective six weeks later – also strongly supports that you did not “voluntarily” submit that resignation, but rather did it in order to get six weeks more of employment. That can hardly be characterized as “voluntary.”
d. Fourth, on your unemployment application, if you can, use the words “involuntary,” “hostility,” “dishonest,”and “damage to my health.” These days, most states permit applicants for unemployment benefits to apply online, in which certain boxes are simply checked off. In applying for unemployment benefits, if there is a place to insert any language other than boxes to check off, try to insert words indicating what happened to you, and that your “resignation” was forced, involuntary and a response to hostility. The same is true for your testimony at any unemployment hearing that may take place. This can only help you get awarded unemployment benefits.

I hope this is helpful, and that you will be awarded the unemployment benefits it seems you so rightly deserve.

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!

© 2011 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.