Your job has gotten worse and worse. You dread going to work every day but you’re afraid to quit. After all, you can’t collect unemployment if you quit your job.
Or can you?
Spencer Cohn, a national employee representative and founder of BeatTheBoss.tv says don’t be so sure. You may still be able to collect, but you have to approach it the right way.
I recently interviewed Cohn on my radio show and he offered some advice on how to quit your job and collect unemployment. This is an edited excerpt from that interview.
Gerri: So you say that people can actually quit their job and still collect unemployment? I think that’ll be a big surprise.
Yes, people don’t understand that. The problem is, typically what happens is somebody says “I had enough, I quit.” That’s the wrong way of quitting because when did it come about where you’ve had enough? Did you have enough yesterday? If you’d had enough yesterday, why didn’t you quit yesterday? Or a week before? Why today?
What they fail to do is document their complaints. Just like an employer does if they don’t like the employee, or they’re having problems with the employee, they document it. They send out reprimands and disciplinary notices.
What the employee needs to do is as soon as they’re disgruntled and have had enough, they need to notify their employer in writing and document it. They can say, “Listen, I went to the employer on such and such day and this is what I have a problem with, you’re putting more responsibilities and jobs on me that I didn’t agree to do when I was hired and I am paying for things that I didn’t agree to when I was hired, what are you going to do about it? How are you going to compensate me?”
And typically the employer will say, “Oh don’t worry about it, we’re going to work on it, I’m going to take care of you.” That makes the employee continue to work there. And then finally on the last day, they say, “I’ve been complaining all this time, I’ve complained several times in the month of December, I’ve complained several times in the month of February, nothing’s happened. What do you plan on doing about it?”
Finally, the employer’s going to say, “Nothing actually, because I can’t afford it.” Then you’ve got reason to quit. Clearly the employer has shown that he was going to induce you to stay by telling you he’s going to take care of things and change things and then finally admits, “Nothing’s going to change, if you don’t like it, you can leave.”
If you document it all these times and you have a hearing at least you are going to have the proof you need to show a good cause for giving up your job.
So does the worker need to quit in writing or is it okay to quit verbally?
There’s no obligation to give notice to your employer, unless there’s something in writing under a contract or in a handbook that you signed saying otherwise. Most employees give employers notice because they feel it’s the morally correct thing to do.
But how many times has an employer fired an employee and not give them notice that they’re firing that individual? It doesn’t ever happen.
What I would do, is I would simply say, “Today’s my last day.” I would not put down why or anything of that sort because what happens is the employer can always dangle this information in a future unemployment hearing. They say, “Hey, here’s why this person resigned and they even stated in their resignation letter they had a great experience, it was wonderful, they had great managers.”
And then when you’re at an unemployment hearing, you’re having to defend your own notice.
So, a notice is simply a notice: I resign on a certain date. There’s no obligation to put down why or anything of that kind, because things change. Who knows? You start thinking about it and realize, “I quit my job for a number of reasons I did not list when I turned in my resignation letter.”
To hear more of Spencer Cohn’s advice on collecting unemployment, including how to navigate tougher new rules for collecting, listen to the full interview: Listen online, download the interview, or listen on itunes.
Image: Burt Lum, via Flickr