Thinking of leaving your job?
Here’s what you should do before you quit, or take a leave of absence, to protect your right to unemployment benefits.
Workers who have to quit their jobs can qualify for unemployment compensation in Pennsylvania.
First, what does it mean to quit? Under Pennsylvania law, you quit your job if you intentionally decided to stop working — meaning it was your decision for you to leave work, not your employer’s. This includes:
- Taking a leave of absence
- Stop showing up to work without telling your employer
- Walking off the job and not making an effort to contact your employer afterwards
Second, to be eligible for benefits when you voluntarily leave your job, you have to prove that you had a “necessitous and compelling reason” to leave employment. That means you must show that you:
- Had Good Cause – You were faced with some issue or problem that placed real and substantial pressure on you to leave your job; and
- Made Efforts to Keep Your Job – You communicated the problem to your employer and gave them a chance to address the problem. You do not have to report the issue up the chain of command; telling your supervisor, a manager, or someone in HR should be enough.
Some common examples of “necessitous and compelling reason” under Pennsylvania law include:
- Health problems, including mental health, that prevent you from doing your job (you must still be able and available for some form of work).
- Transportation issues
- Lack of childcare
- Hostile work environment or discrimination (this requires significant proof)
- Significant cut in pay or benefits
Remember, for these to be “necessitous and compelling” reasons to quit, you must first discuss the problem with your employer and – if possible – try to find a solution that will keep you employed.
If you feel that you may need to quit your job, there are some steps we recommend you take before making a final decision. These may help you resolve the situation with your employer so you can keep your job, or improve your chances of being found eligible for benefits if you must quit.
- Discuss the situation with your employer. Make sure that the employer knows about the problem and ask if they can help to resolve the problem.
- If informal discussion is not helpful or productive, make a written record of your communication with the employer by sending an email or text message to the employer:
- Clearly state the problem you are facing and explain how it is affecting your ability to do your job. Do not assume that the employer is aware of or understands anything based on your informal discussions.
- Tell them about the efforts you have already made to solve the problem.
- Ask for an accommodation or assistance and explain that you may need to resign if you are unable to find a solution.
- Check with Human Resources if your supervisor or manager is not responsive.
- Use a non-work email account to send the message or make sure to send yourself copies, because your employer can take away access to your work email.
- Screenshot your text messages or call logs with your employer.
How do I preserve my evidence?
It is best to have a written record of your actions and communication with your employer. Read our tips about how to preserve your evidence.