“If I don’t like my new job, can I go back on unemployment?”

Question: Hi, Alan. I was terminated and have been receiving unemployment benefits for two months.

The good news is I’m expecting an offer coming soon. The bad news is the job being offered may not be suitable for me. If I accept the job offer it would only be because I don’t have a job, and having something is better than nothing.

My question is, if I start working there, and things don’t work out, and I resign, is it possible to re-open the unemployment claim I have now, and resume receiving benefits?


Springfield, Massachusetts

Answer: Dear Jay: Yours is a very helpful question because so many people ask it. In short, the answer to your question is “No, you cannot resign because you don’t like a job and resume collecting unemployment.” Here are the reasons:      

1. Unemployment benefits are given to people who have lost their jobs due to no fault of their own. Our society – and most societies – long ago decided to put in a system to help out those of us who lost employment without having done anything wrong. The circumstances that most commonly give rise to eligibility for unemployment benefits in this context are: (a) layoff, (b) downsizing, and (c) reductions in workforce. It was also near universally decided that unemployment benefits would not be provided to those who either (i) were fired for engaging in bad behavior – such as chronic absence, theft or insubordination, or (ii) left their employment voluntarily. These basic ideas are almost universal in all of the United States, and in other countries, as well.    

2. Unemployment benefits are also given to those who leave their jobs truly “involuntarily,” for a “Good Reason.” We also recognize that some people resign not voluntarily, but involuntarily, due to no fault of their own. For example, if an employer is sexually harassing an employee, and will not stop and will not take “no” for an answer, almost every state and country will under those circumstances provide unemployment benefits. In my experience, the circumstances that most commonly give rise to eligibility for unemployment benefits in this context are: (a) severe harassment or disability, (b) a threat of imminent harm from a boss or colleague, and (c) a dangerous or unsafe working environment.  

3. Not liking a job is not considered a “Good Cause” to leave it and collect unemployment benefits. Jay, I would truly understand – and agree with – anyone who said, “Wouldn’t it be better for me to try a new job, than stay on unemployment, without being penalized for trying the new job?” I would say “Yes.” However, if we gave unemployment benefits to people in that context, why should we not give unemployment benefits to anyone who does not like their job? I’ll tell you why: because 90% of the working population would take the benefits and enjoy some time off. Fortunately or unfortunately, the world does not have enough resources to permit so many people the option of leaving their jobs – with unemployment – just because they didn’t like their jobs. 

4. Your best bets: (a) “Deep Due Diligence,” and (b) “Smile for Awhile.” There’s no doubt, you have a bit of a difficult decision before you: take a chance with the new job, or remain on unemployment benefits until a really great job comes along.   

(a) First, I suggest you do the best you can to really look into the new job in every way you can in order to better decide if it is “for you.” Perhaps talk to employees presently there. Perhaps talk to employees formerly there. Perhaps go online and find out what others have to say about working there. Perhaps do a court search to determine how many employees may have sued the employer during the past few years. But whatever you do to find out more about the employer, the job and your compatibility with both – do a lot of it. “More data yields a better decision.” 

(b) Second, no matter how “bad” the new job may turn out to be, “grin and bear it” until you have found something better. I do not doubt that some jobs make it very difficult to wake up each day, but I do think that people tend to underestimate the potential that exists in every job to make that job (i) more interesting, (ii) more rewarding, (iii) more fun, and even (iv) more of a learning experience. There’s an old saying, “There is no such thing as boring jobs, just boring people.” Creative people can mentally transform even the most mundane and dirty tasks into games and challenges. That’s what I’ve tried to do, and have done, with my own career.    

Jay, I hope this is helpful. If so, please consider telling others about our blogsite. It is growing in good part due to the “contributions” of people like you, world over.

Al Sklover

P.S.: 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!

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