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Handling Resignation-Based Unemployment Claims
6 Things Employers Should Do to Win
Without question, the simplest types of unemployment claims to protest are those dealing with a voluntary resignation. The average voluntary resignation goes through without issue. Unemployment Insurance Services prevents 99% of the claims that we protest that involve a quit. The problems with the remaining 1% arise through a variety of assumptions and unintentional errors by the employer.
The most common issue is misinterpreting what is or is not a voluntary resignation. In all states, the accepted criteria to deem a separation voluntary is that the claimant must have been the one to initiate the separation. He or she must have carried out the first overt act that led to the employment ending. This usually comes in the form of a resignation letter.
What happens, though, if the issue is not as crystal clear as the claimant delivering notice of their intent to resign? As an employer, your documentation of the events leading to the resignation will become as important as documenting for a discharge.
Here are six things employers can do to avoid losing resignation claims:
- Get a letter of resignation! When I was a practicing HR professional and an employee told me that they were resigning, the first thing I did was place a piece of paper in front of them and asked them to put it in writing. 99% of the time, they would willingly oblige. The 1% that would not would almost always have a backstory or raise a concern of a previously unknown issue.
- In lieu of a letter of resignation, DOCUMENT! When an employee refused to give me a letter of resignation I would immediately begin the documentation process. Document the meeting as if you were documenting a discharge. If a witness is present, obtain a witness statement. Reasonable people will provide you an explanation. In our experience, the employee who will not be forthcoming with their reasons may be a budding issue. This is particularly important if there is a previous history with the employee.
- Save all forms of communication! People now will notify you of their intent to resign in many forms of media. In many cases, we have provided as evidence of a claimant resigning their position in the form of Facebook posts, Tweets, text messages, and of course emails as evidence of their voluntary resignation. In many cases, these are even better than a letter of resignation as they are much more public, candid, and self-incriminating.
- Consider sending a certified letter. It will not always be possible to have a face to face meeting to determine the employee’s intent. Consider sending a certified letter to establish a deadline for the employee to communicate their intentions. This establishes a paper trail and shows that you were extending them an opportunity to convey any concerns. In the letter, make sure you state that failure to communicate by the deadline will result in you accepting their RESIGNATION. Do not use the words terminate or discharge.
- Allow them to complete their notice period. In most states, not allowing an employee to complete their notice period will result in the state adjudicating that claim as a discharge. If you are not wanting to keep the employee on the premises during their notice period, consider paying them for the notice period. Even if they do not work, paying them will eliminate the argument that they were dismissed early.
- Resignations in lieu of terminations ARE NOT voluntary. If you are prepared to discharge an employee and have communicated your intent, this will always be considered a discharge. Remember, for a resignation to be considered voluntary, the claimant must initiate the separation.
Always remember, too, that for a claimant to be eligible for benefits after a quit, they must show that they quit for good cause attributable to the employer or employment. They must show that they had exhausted all avenues available to them to preserve their employment. Your documentation should reflect that you tried to listen and address any concerns raised.
By being proactive and following these six simple steps, you will likely avoid unemployment claim charges for resignations.
As a provider of unemployment claims management services, we can help you develop policies and strategies to proactively prevent unemployment expense. Contact us today!
About the Author
Jeff Oswald is the President of Unemployment Insurance Services. In nearly twenty years of managing UI accounts on behalf of businesses, he has participated in thousands of unemployment hearings.
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Unemployment Insurance Services
3720 NE Troon
PO Box 7072
Lee's Summit, MO 64064