• David Manes

Unilateral changes in employment: when quitting is justified for UC purposes

Under the Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Laws if you voluntarily quit your job you will be ineligible for compensation unless you had a necessitous or compelling reason to leave. There are many necessitous and compelling reasons to leave, such as the presence of workplace hazards or harassment from your supervisors. But one often-overlooked area are unilateral changes in employment. Unilateral changes in employment occur when your employer changes the conditions of your employment so much that it justifies you quitting the job. This happens often, but employees may not realize that they can quit because of it and still collect unemployment compensation (UC). Below are some examples of unilateral changes in employment that justify voluntary quits.

Substantial reductions in pay

If an employer substantially reduces your pay without just cause this may justify a quit and allow you to still collect benefits. For example, if you are making 50K a year and your job performance has been steady and satisfactory, and then your employer reduces your pay to 30K, this would justify your quit. Each situation is judged on a case-by-case basis, but the change in pay must be considered substantial.

Demotions

If you are demoted, and a change in pay comes along with it, it may or may not justify your quit. The UC Board will want to know if the demotion itself was justified. If the employer had good reason to demote, your quit will not be justified. But if they did not have good reason, and the demotion substantially reduced your pay, then your quit would be justified.

Termination of health benefits

If an employer unilaterally terminates your health care benefits, you would be justified in quitting. Also, if you know that the termination of health benefits is imminent, even if it has not occurred yet, you are justified in quitting.

Transfers to less skilled work

If your employer transfers you to less skilled tasks than the ones you were performing before, you may be justified in quitting. For example, if you were a mechanic performing complex repairs on automobiles and then your boss relegates you to sweeping and taking out the garbage, your quit would be justified.

Dissatisfaction not enough

Simply being dissatisfied with certain changes concerning your job are not enough to justify a quit for UC purposes. The changes must be substantial and must impact your pay, tasks, or benefits in a substantial way.

Summary of unilateral changes in employment

If an employer substantially reduces your pay, transfers you to less skilled work, or terminates your health benefits, you are justified in quitting and you can still collect UC benefits. If you are simply dissatisfied with changes in your employment; it will not be enough to justify your quit. For more information, contact KM&A for a short consultation.

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