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Radical change to worker’s schedule lets him win unemployment benefits

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in Employee Benefits Program,Employment Law,Human Resources

Philip Mauro was hired for a carpenter/foreman job with the understanding that his work had to coincide with his daughter's day care hours, 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and that he had to work at one location. The company agreed, but four days into the job it switched him to longer hours and a different location.

Mauro asked the company to adjust his schedule so it wouldn't interfere with the day care hours, but the company's response was, "You got to do what you got to do." He quit and filed for unemployment benefits.

Initially Mauro's claim was denied, in part because he didn't request a specific change in work hours before quitting. But a state court reversed the ruling, saying Mauro did make a reasonable effort to keep the job.

Even if he didn't attempt to keep his job, the court said, Mauro still would have been entitled to benefits because a substantial change in the terms and conditions of employment can provide a compelling reason for a person to quit. (Mauro v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, No. 2598 C.D.1999, Commonwealth Ct. of Pa., 2000)

Advice: Talk through an employee's requests for a change in schedule, especially if your state's unemployment law provides that a resignation is not voluntary if the employee tries to preserve his job.

Workers who voluntarily quit can earn unemployment if they can show they acted for necessary and compelling reasons, and that they made a reasonable effort to keep their job. Conflicts with day care can be a legitimate reason.

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