I Think I May Need to Quit My Job

Need to quit your job? Here’s what you should do before you quit to protect your right to unemployment benefits.

Workers who had to quit their jobs can qualify for unemployment compensation.

First, what does it mean to quit?  Under Pennsylvania law, the government will find you quit your job if you intentionally decided to stop working -- meaning it was your decision, not your employers, for you to leave work.  This includes:

  • Resigning
  • Taking a leave of absence
  • Stop showing up work without telling your employer 
  • Walking off the job and not making an effort to contact your employer afterwards
  • Retiring

Second, to be eligible for benefits when you voluntarily leave your job, you have to prove that you had a “necessitous and compelling reason” to leave employment.  That means, in order to be eligible for UC, you must show that you:

  1. Had Good Cause - You were faced with some issue or problem that placed real and substantial pressure on you to leave your job; and
  2. Had No Reasonable Alternative - You communicated the problem to the employer to provide them with an opportunity to resolve the issue or provide an accommodation and/or investigated whether their accommodation was reasonable. 

Third, some common examples of “necessitous and compelling reason” under Pennsylvania law include:

  • Health problems, including mental health, that prevent you from doing your job. However, you must be able and available to work in some way. Read what able and available means here.
  • Transportation issues
  • Lack of childcare
  • Hostile work environment or discrimination (this requires significant proof)
  • Significant cut in pay or benefits

What if I believe I need to quit my job?

If you feel that you may need to quit your job, there are some things you should do before making a final decision that can either 1) resolve the situation with your employer so you can keep your job or 2) improve your chances of being found eligible for benefits if you must quit:

  • Discuss the situation with your employer. Make sure that the employer is aware of the problem and ask if they can help to resolve the problem.
  • Discuss the situation with co-workers. Others may be facing the same/similar issues and may be able to help you or work with you to find a solution.
  • If informal discussion is not helpful or productive, make a written record of your communication with the employer by sending an email to the employer:
    • Clearly identify the problem you are facing and explain how it is affecting your  ability to do your job. Do not assume that the employer is aware of/understands anything based on your informal discussions. 
    • Identify any efforts you have already made to resolve the situation. 
    • Request an accommodation or assistance and explain that you may need to resign if you are unable to find a solution.
    • Check with Human Resources if your supervisor or manager is not responsive.
  • Use a non-work email account to send the message or make sure to send yourself copies, because you may lose access to work emails if you leave the job.
  • Screenshot your text messages or call logs with your employer.

How to Preserve Your Evidence

It is best to have a written record of your actions and communication with your employer. Find our tips about how to preserve your evidence here.