Quitting for family reasons and collecting unemployment

Imagine you are working a job full time with mandatory overtime. The job is demanding and only leaves you free on weekends. It is a tough job, but you manage to get by. Then, the unthinkable happens, your Mother is struck with a debilitating illness. She is elderly and requires 24-hour care and attention. You worry about being able to make it to work every day and take care of your Mother.

Can you quit your job and still collect unemployment benefits? This is a question that is frequently asked today as the baby boomer generation gets older and more of the burden is placed on the children to take care of them.

Quitting your job for family reasons

The unemployment law in Pennsylvania does recognize family care as a compelling reason to quit. In Pennsylvania, if you have a compelling reason to quit, you can voluntarily leave your job and still collect unemployment benefits. When this situation arises it is up to the employee to prove that they had a compelling reason and they also must prove that they took steps to preserve their employment. Family reasons can be a good enough reason to quit, but it depends on the circumstances.

Each case is different

Pennsylvania courts have stated that while the preservation of the family unit is desirable, it does not, in and of itself, create a compelling reasons to quit. The law states that each case must sink or swim on the particular facts of that case and whether or not the need is compelling enough to justify a quit.

For example, where a father quit his job to assist with the care of a son whose emotional problems were not being adequately addressed by a grandparent, the Pennsylvania Courts found this to be a compelling reason and granted benefits. Thus, if the need of the family is sufficient enough it may justify a quit.

Duty to preserve

No matter how compelling the reason is for the quit, the employee still must make efforts to preserve their employment. This preservation step can be satisfied by simply notifying the employer of the family difficulties and having a discussion about working out the problem. If the employer presents no satisfactory solution, then the employee can quit and be fairly secure in the fact that they will be granted unemployment benefits.