Ask HR: Can an Employee Claim Unemployment Benefits After Resigning?

By Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP September 16, 2022
LIKE SAVE
Ask HR: Can an Employee Claim Unemployment Benefits After Resigning?

​SHRM President and Chief Executive Officer Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, is answering HR questions as part of a series for USA Today.

Do you have an HR or work-related question you'd like him to answer? Submit it here. 
 

After working for 13 years at a company as an electrician, I was diagnosed with a degenerative eye condition, and I am going blind. I went in to talk with HR about this but ran into the owners. I talked to them about my condition. I can no longer read a blueprint or work order. We agreed that with my condition, I could not do my job without putting myself or my co-workers in danger. With this being a safety issue, I cannot just guess my way through work. So, I left the company on those grounds. Is this a legal reason to quit? Since they classified my leaving as a resignation, can I receive unemployment benefits? Anonymous

Johnny C. Taylor, Jr.: Let me start by thanking you for putting the welfare of your colleagues first. It was an honorable gesture, and I'm sure a very difficult decision.

While I can't speak to the exact circumstances you're facing, you may be eligible to receive unemployment benefits, depending on state regulations. The state will consider several factors in determining whether benefits are payable. Two common eligibility criteria are if the loss of the job was out of the employee's control and if the employee is seeking other employment.

Should you be determined eligible, also inquire about training benefits. Your state unemployment benefits office may approve training courses, which can be made available when a person can no longer perform in their customary occupation but are otherwise employable.

Additionally, if a medical condition causes temporary or permanent disability, then disability benefits may be another consideration. Some employers have disability policies, and it may be worth investigating if you would have been qualified for these when you were still working. Contact your human resources team to find out how long you have to file a claim. If disability benefits are not available through your former employer, check to see if you would qualify for permanent disability under Social Security. 

Lastly, if you wish to pursue training in another occupation outside of any potential unemployment benefits, many organizations focus on supporting people with low vision. These organizations provide skills-based training or training with technology to assist you in a new role.

I wish you the very best in your journey ahead and hope these present challenges prove to be doors of opportunity into a very bright future.

 

I am in my mid-60s, but I'm not ready to retire. I'm physically healthy, mentally sharp and fairly technologically savvy. My current job is being phased out gradually. How likely is it that a company will hire me at this age? How do I convince them that their return in hiring me will outweigh their cost of investing in me? Charmaine

Johnny C. Taylor, Jr.: I think it's very likely that a company will hire you! The population of younger workers with education and skills is not nearly large enough to fill the gap created by people who are retiring from the workforce. Most employers will focus on hiring individuals with the requisite skills, experience and knowledge to perform successfully at work regardless of age.

Being informed of the gradual phasing out of your position provides you with a key opportunity to prepare for the upcoming change. As you explore the next steps in your career, consider these three strategies:

  1. Speak to your current supervisor and express your desire to remain employed with the company and your interest in opportunities within the same department or others they may be aware of.
  2. Use your networks! What other professionals have you made connections with throughout your career? Employers are three to four times more likely to hire a referred candidate than one sourced through other channels. Who better to recommend an opportunity than a family member, friend or professional acquaintance? These contacts may even know of opportunities well-suited to your skill set and personality. Let them know you are looking, and ask them to put a good word in for you when you apply!
  3. Leverage social media, like LinkedIn, to share your business profile and inform prospective employers that you are seeking new employment opportunities. This is the most up-to-date means to share the wealth of knowledge, experience and skills you have acquired, which can distinguish you from more-junior workers.

Today's workforce needs you! To best prepare, review your resume. Remove any dates for education and, if appropriate, pare down your jobs to more-recent positions to reduce the chance of unconscious age bias by the reader. Come prepared for interviews with a strong understanding of the company. Present your authentic self and speak to being ready for a new challenge. Focus your energies on sharing how your talent, experience, skills and abilities set you apart, and provide a level of stability and knowledge sought by employers. I wish you all the best on your career journey.

LIKE SAVE

SHRM HR JOBS

Hire the best HR talent or advance your own career.

Member Benefit: Ask-An-Advisor Service

SHRM's HR Knowledge Advisors offer guidance and resources to assist members with their HR inquiries.

SHRM's HR Knowledge Advisors offer guidance and resources to assist members with their HR inquiries.

REACH OUT NOW

SPONSOR OFFERS

HR Daily Newsletter

News, trends and analysis, as well as breaking news alerts, to help HR professionals do their jobs better each business day.