The Virginia legislature has passed Senate Bill 1495, known as the “trailing spouse” bill. The legislation would allow an individual to collect unemployment benefits if he or she voluntarily leaves a job to accompany a spouse who is on active military duty and has been posted to a new location, from which the employee’s workplace isn’t reasonably accessible. The measure applies only if the state to which the spouse is transferred has a similar provision, unless the transfer involves members of the Virginia National Guard relocated within the commonwealth. Benefits paid to qualifying claimants would be charged against the unemployment insurance pool rather than against the claimant's employer.
The Virginia Chamber of Commerce opposes the bill. In the chamber’s view, if this bill is signed into law, the General Assembly will be asked each year to pick exceptions to unemployment insurance rules, creating and endless and arbitrary system of winners and losers and piling on costs to employers.
Diane Cadrain is an attorney who has been writing about employment law issues for more than 20 years. She is a member of the Human Resource Association of Central Connecticut.
Bill Would Provide Jobless Benefits to Military Spouses, SHRM Online Legal Issues, Feb. 11, 2009