If you voluntarily quit your job, you can only get unemployment benefits if you left for "good cause." Good cause means that you must have specific reasons why you quit and your decision to leave should be considered a "constructive discharge." Constructive discharge generally means a reasonable person in a similar situation would have voluntarily quit their job.
Some examples of valid reasons for quitting:
Violation of state and federal law that protects employees from illegal workplace behavior, such as sexual harassment or discrimination based on your race. You can learn more about your rights under the Illinois Human Rights Act through the Illinois Department of Human Rights.
- Changes in the terms or working conditions of your job.
- Abusive behavior on the job by coworkers or supervisors.
- Your employer refuses to pay you wages for work you have done. You can learn more about how to file a claim against your employer by going to Illinois Department of Labor and look under the "Unpaid Wage" section.
- A significant cut in your hours, benefits, or pay rate. It is important to understand that there are very specific criteria that the IDES uses if you decide to quit based on this reason.
- Your boss changes your work shift, causing child care or transportation issues. This reason is also one you need to be very cautious about because you need to show a number of things to prove that this is a valid reason.
Some examples of non-valid reasons for quitting:
You can't find day care unless it's your boss's fault.
- You don't have transportation to work unless it is because your work location changed.
- Stress caused by the job.
- You are not getting along with a coworker or boss the way you would like to.
- A small decrease in your hours, benefits, or pay rate.
Before quitting, you are usually required to make reasonable attempts to resolve any problems you are having at work with your employer. If you have an employee handbook, look at it very carefully. Usually, there is a section in the employee handbook that tells you what to do when you are having problems at work and it is important that you follow the requirements listed in the handbook, especially if you have a potential lawsuit for illegal behavior your employer took.
You should keep detailed records of any letters, emails, or other communications you have with your employer. If your conversations are in-person, you should make notes afterwards and, if possible, send your employer an email with your understanding of what the conversation was about.
You should consult an attorney if you are having problems at work, so that you can understand what procedures you need to follow so that your unemployment benefits are protected, as well as any legal requirements you need to meet in a lawsuit against your employer for illegal behavior.
What if I quit, but it was not the employer's fault?
Sometimes you can be eligible for unemployment benefits, even if the reason you quit was not the fault of your employer. Some examples are:
- Leaving because of a health problem.
- Leaving to care for a sick or disabled relative.
- Quitting because of rights you have under a union contract as a union member.
- Quitting because of a domestic violence situation and you believe continued employment would jeopardize your safety or the safety of your relative. You must tell your employer why you are quitting before you leave and you must also give certain documents to IDES to prove domestic violence.
- Quitting because you must move for your spouse's job or military assignment.
Updated: January 2017