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Voluntary Leaving (Quit)

What the law says: This issue is covered by Section 29(1)(a) of the Michigan Employment Security Act. The Act provides that if a worker quits a job without having a good cause “attributable to the employer” (that is, the worker quits and the employer is not at fault for the quit), then the worker will be “disqualified” from receiving unemployment benefits. The worker must then get another job and have earnings with that employer to “requalify” for benefits. But the employer from whom the worker quits will not be charged for the benefits, even if the worker requalifies and draws benefits.

What court cases have said: Unemployment compensation cases say that before quitting, the worker must first tell the employer about the problem and must give the employer a chance to correct it. If the problem continues, and the worker quits the job, he or she would not be disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits (assuming the Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) agreed that the employer’s conduct provided the worker with an acceptable reason for leaving). The worker must show that he or she left the job for a reason that would cause a reasonable person, under similar conditions, to leave the job.

In some cases, a physical condition or illness of a worker prevents him or her from continuing to work and the employer, when requested, cannot offer the worker a job within the worker’s capacity. In those cases, the quit may be classified as “involuntary” and the worker will not be disqualified for quitting. However, the worker must still be able to work at a job he or she is qualified to do, by past experience or training, to be eligible for benefits.

Examples: If a worker quits a job because his or her spouse was transferred, the worker had a good personal reason to quit the job, but since there is no fault by the employer, the worker would be disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits.

As another example, if a worker first notifies his or her employer that certain safety conditions at the worksite pose a safety hazard, and the employer does not, or cannot, correct the problem, then the worker would not be disqualified if he or she quits the job.

Proof at the Hearing: If either the employer or the unemployed worker appeals the case to an Administrative Law Judge, the employer must first prove that the worker quit the job. The worker must then prove that the employer was at fault for the quit because of something the employer did, or allowed to happen, in the workplace. A statement at the hearing by either party is a form of proof. The statements at the hearing of witnesses may also be helpful in proving a case, since they give added weight to the statements of the worker or employer. Documents supported by testimony at the hearing may also be used as proof.

For Further Help: The Unemployment Insurance Agency Advocacy Program can provide assistance to employers and unemployed worker in preparing for Administrative Law Judge and/or Board of Review hearings on this issue. Call 1-800-638-3994.

The information on this sheet is intended to provide a general understanding of the subject matter. It does not have the force of law or regulation.

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