Pennsylvania Unemployment Eligibility Issues

This article gives information about problems that affect eligibility for PA unemployment compensation (UC). It also contains information about details that each party-employer and claimant-is responsible for when issue crops up.

This article is prepared to give general information only. It is not an official statement of the law.

Voluntary Quit

Quitting Job VoluntarilySection 402(b) of the Pennsylvania UC Law states that a claimant shall not be entitled for any benefits for any week in which his/her unemployment is due to leaving work voluntarily or leaving without cause of an important and compelling nature. A claimant who willingly quits continuing work has the burden of proof in establishing good cause for quitting; and, that such cause was genuine and considerable, leaving the claimant no other alternative. The burden is on the claimant to show that, before quitting continuing employment, he/she made every reasonable effort to maintain the employer-employee relationship.

Following are examples of some common voluntary quit situations.

Health reasons To be eligible, the claimant must tell the employer of his/her health limitations before quitting so that the employer has a chance to offer suitable work within the claimant’s limitations.

Transportation problems To be qualified, the claimant must show that the loss of the transportation was through no mistake of his/her.

Spouse following spouse- To be entitled, the claimant must explain that the reason for the spouse’s relocation was beyond the spouse’s control.

Leaving work due to personal reasons – To be qualified, the claimant must show that he/she quit due to personal conditions that left him/her no logical alternative.

To attend school – Quitting a job to attend school is not considered a cause of a necessitous and compelling nature, unless it is to attend school or training provided under the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA).

Due to unsuitable work – When an employee accepts a position, he/she admits to the initial aptness of the position with respect to its wages and the conditions of employment. When a claimant gives up because he/she feels the job was inappropriate, the claimant must show there were changes in the conditions of employment.

Job not the same as what was anticipated – To be eligible, the claimant must show that the monetary expectations of employment were not fulfilled through no fault of the claimant.


Section 402(e) provides that an individual, who is discharged from employment for reasons that are considered to be willful misconduct connected with his/her work, is ineligible to collect benefits. The employer must show that the employee’s actions rose to the level of willful misconduct.

Following are examples of some common discharge situations.

Absenteeism/Tardiness- Before being discharged for absenteeism or tardiness, the claimant must have been warned about such behavior. Besides, there have been cases where one absence was enough to show willful misconduct. The reason for the last occurrence will be taken into consideration in determining if the claimant had a good reason for being late or absent.

Eviction NoticeRule violation – Purposeful violation of an employer’s rule which is known to the employee comprises willful misconduct if the employer’s rule is sensible and the employee’s behavior, in breaching the rule, was not motivated y good cause.

Attitude toward employer or disruptive influence- Disregard of standards of behavior which an employer can fairly expect from his/her employee constitutes willful misconduct.

Damage to equipment or property- Negligence which manifests wrongful intent, culpability, evil design, or intentional and substantial disregard of the employer’s interests or of the employee’s duties and obligations constitutes willful misconduct.

Unsatisfactory work performanceUnsatisfactory work performance – Disappointing work performance is not considered willful misconduct where the claimant is working to the best of his/her ability. However, it is willful misconduct where the employer’s confirm that the claimant was capable of doing the work, but was not performing up to standards despite admonitions and warnings.

Drug and alcohol testing – The UC Law provides for the denial of benefits for failure to submit (to) and/or pass a drug or alcohol test, provided the test is legal and not in disagreement with an existing labor agreement.

Other Eligibility Issues

Below are examples of some other eligibility issues that are not associated to the claimant’s separation from employment.

  • Able and Available
  • Self-Employment during the Base Year
  • Self-Employment while Claiming Benefits
  • Self-Employment/Sideline Business
  • Refusal of Suitable Work
  • Incarcerated Employees
  • Pensions
  • Predetermination of Claims

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