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One way to avoid unemployment liability: Offer time off for medical problems

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in Compensation and Benefits,Human Resources

In Minnesota, an employee who has a medical condition that prevents him from working can still collect unemployment benefits if he quits. But there’s a condition he must meet. Before he quits, he has to tell his employer about the medical problem so the employer has a chance to offer time off and continued employment when he returns.

Smart employers let employees know ahead of time that this is the policy. Then they remind employees if it looks like they may be ready to quit for medical reasons.

Recent case: Chad had neck ­problems before he began working for a landscaping company. When he aggravated his injury on his new job, he began taking time off. He underwent an MRI and his doctor recommended more time off. That’s when Chad put in his two weeks’ notice. Then he applied for unemployment compensation.

The employer opposed his application, explaining that it had told Chad to take the time he needed for treatment. It never encouraged him to quit and was ready and willing to make accommodations until Chad was ready to work.

That was enough for the court to dismiss Chad’s benefit application. It explained that employees have to give their employers a chance to accommo­­date illness before quitting. Other­­wise, they’re not eligible for unemployment benefits. (Biske v. Grassmaster Pro­­fes­­ional Groundskeeping, No. A11-2044, Court of Appeals of Minnesota, 2012)

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