Leaving a job can be a complex matter and does not always fit into the routine rules of unemployment compensation.
A nurse wrote to me describing a conviction for DUI and the state board of nursing’s requirement that the nurse meet certain employment conditions, including on-site monitoring by another designated nurse and no floating assignments.
The hospital refused the board’s requirements. The nurse refused to voluntarily resign in the face of the employer’s refusal and was terminated.
The nurse asked whether an application for unemployment compensation would be possible and if the employee would have to fight for the benefits.
Unemployment insurance is a joint federal-state benefit for former employees who are temporarily out of work, through no fault of their own. Unemployment insurance exists in all states but its components vary widely.
Even so, common themes exist in most unemployment compensation statutes. For example, what type of employees covered include: part-time and full-time; private, federal, state and local governments; and executives, officers and rank and file.
A second common topic is that the benefit does not last forever. Most states provide an average of a 26-week benefit, including Illinois, Oklahoma and Arizona. Other states, such as Maine and Montana, allow more while Arkansas and Florida provide the benefit for fewer than 26 weeks.
The amount provided under unemployment compensation includes a certain percentage of what the employee earned while employed. According to unemployment attorney Lisa Guerin, JD, a common formula is to pay half of what the employee earned while employed up to a cap that is linked to the average earnings in a specific state.
Another important component of unemployment laws is that the former employee must apply for this benefit. The employer does not do so.
Though it may seem that every former employee is able to apply for unemployment benefits, this is not true. One must be eligible for those benefits. First, the former employee must meet a state’s requirements for time worked or wages earned. This varies from state to state.
If eligible, the former employee must actively be seeking work during the time on unemployment payments. The state agency that administers the benefits has specific requirements that must be met, including regular, detailed reporting of jobs sought, dates and the outcome of the search.
Ineligibility for unemployment compensation occurs under varying circumstances in each state as well. One common category is if the employee leaves his job on his or her own through no fault of the employer. A clear example would be a voluntary resignation.
A second common type of ineligibility is if the employee was involved in misconduct and was terminated. Misconduct can include not following an employer’s policy or protocol, stealing from the employer and insubordination.
Former employees who are on strike and those who refuse to accept suitable work without good cause also are generally not able to apply for unemployment compensation.
Will this nurse need to be prepared to fight for any unemployment benefits based on the above highlights of the law?
Note: Nancy Brent’s posts are designed for educational purposes only and are not to be taken as specific legal or other advice.