Even the best employment relationships can end and sometimes, when they do, they result in the former employee filing for unemployment benefits. If you have received an unemployment benefits claim and are not experienced with the process, you will likely have some questions. This blog series, The Unemployment Road Map, is a resource that TriNet offers to provide you with guidance on this journey.
The word termination confuses some employers. They assume that termination means that an employee was fired. In the world of unemployment benefits claims, “termination” simply means the end of an employment relationship. This term is used regardless of who severs the relationship. There are generally two types of terminations – voluntary and involuntary. In this post, we’ll focus on unemployment benefits claims based on voluntary terminations.
A voluntary termination is one where the employee initiates the separation or termination of employment. Voluntary terminations or resignations or “quits” are generally easier to prove than involuntary ones when the proper documentation is maintained. It’s very important to get a resignation letter from the employee. Ideally, the letter outlines the reason for leaving, amount of notice, last day of work and is signed by the employee. Unfortunately, this level of detail is not typical. In fact, many employees avoid stating a resignation reason. Further, many employees send their resignations by email and no signature is included. However, a resignation e-mail is still helpful for unemployment benefits claims purposes because it shows the sender, recipient, date and time.
Another important procedure to follow when an employee resigns is the exit interview. Here, the employee may reveal their reason for leaving. Document the concerns stated in the interview, and if possible, have the employee sign it. There are a few reasons this matters:
A voluntary resignation -- especially for non-compelling reasons -- usually disqualifies an employee for unemployment benefits but there are significant exceptions. In most states, if an employee quits for documented reasons attributable to the employer, they will likely be awarded benefits. The employee must be able to prove that the employer was informed of the situation and made no attempt to fix it. Other reasons that a state might grant benefits to an employee who quits include:
Additionally, in some states, claimants who leave one position to go to another that pays more or provides better benefits may be able to collect unemployment benefits.
These questions might give some insight into how your state leans in this situation.
Voluntary terminations are only slightly less complex than involuntary ones. It bears repeating that just because an employee resigns, it will not necessarily result in a positive outcome for the employer. Keep these tips in mind when faced with a resignation. We will visit involuntary terminations next time in The Unemployment Road Map, Part 4: Know Your Terms – Involuntary Terminations.
This communication is for informational purposes only; it is not legal, tax or accounting advice; and is not an offer to sell, buy or procure insurance.