Child-care problems may justify unemployment — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

Child-care problems may justify unemployment

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Employees who no longer work because they lose access to child care are sometimes eligible for unemployment compensation. But they must first seek help in the form of a reasonable accommodation from their employer and be turned down.

Even so, the worker still has to look for “suitable employment” to retain the benefits. He or she can’t reject every job offer based on inconvenient day-care scheduling.

Recent case: Nyqueela was an account clerk for the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), performing data entry. Her young child was in day care.

At some point, she could no longer send her child to that day care center, and friends and relatives were unable to provide full-time care, either. Nyqueela told her supervisor that she was having problems obtaining child care and asked if she could adjust her work schedule to come in later, work part-time or telecommute. The supervisor denied her request.

Because she was not offered accommodation for her child care issue and was unable to obtain affordable day care, she gave notice that she was quitting her job.

She applied for unemployment compensation. MnDOT appealed her benefits.

The court concluded that the way she quit made her eligible: She asked for an accommodation and didn’t get one and therefore had a compelling reason to quit.

On the other hand, the court also looked at her efforts to find a job. It discovered that Nyqueela had turned down several day-shift positions because they started before 10 a.m., which was when a neighbor was available to babysit. The court said she wasn’t looking for suitable employment. Presumably she should have been looking for day-care arrangements as she was job hunting instead of relying on finding a job tailored to a specific babysitter’s schedule. (James v. Minnesota Department of Transportation, No. A-15-0051, Court of Appeals of Minnesota, 2015)

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