Grounds For Unemployment In Illinois

Illinois Department of Employment Security is the designated agency in Illinois that manages and resolves claims for unemployment. Like any other agency, IDES is a well structured entity with multiple levels that review claims: caseworkers, administrative law judges and board of appeals which consists of three judges. Furthermore, if a party is not satisfied with an outcome, such party may file a claim with the office of the attorney general. We will discuss the procedure in the subsequent articles. This article concentrates on the substance of Illinois unemployment law.

Before a person files for the unemployment benefits, the person must qualify to file such claim. First of all, there must be a so called "last chargeable employer." Section 500. In simple terms, a person must have been employed, lost the job and there has to be an employer against who the claim will be attributed. It does not matter if an employee was an independent contractor (10-99 form for tax purposes) or a W-2 employee. It also does not matter if a person was a part-time or full-time employee as long as the pay check would have been larger than the unemployment compensation. If the employee succeeds in his or her claim for the unemployment benefits, employer's tax rate will go up.

Second, the employee must qualify to receive the unemployment benefits under Section 500 of the Unemployment Handbook. A person qualifies for the unemployment benefits if a person is able and available and does not place undue restrictions on job search. Being able and available means that a person must be of good health, must have means of transportation and necessary knowledge and skills to perform particular job duties. Undue restrictions come into play when employee, after losing the job, limits the new search to a particular geographical area or certain number of hours or days. It is an ongoing obligation of an employee to exercise all reasonable efforts to find a new job placement while unemployed.

If there was a last chargeable employer and the employee is able and available with no undue restrictions for the purposes of Illinois Department of Employment Security, the next step would be to determine why the claimant was separated from the employment. There can be only two ways a person's employment can be terminated: 1) when a person himself or herself leaves an employer and without a good cause attributable to the employer; 2) when an employer initiates a termination. In either scenario employee would be eligible for unemployment if the termination was not caused by any fault on behalf of the employee.

If a person quits the job, there can be several grounds:

Lack of Work - if an employer does not have enough work for a particular employee, it is called "lack of work." Typically this scenario arises during a decline in the demand for the employer's services or products. Usually employers cut down on employees’ hours. If employee is a non-salaried worker and does not make enough money because of such lack in the working hours, the employee would be eligible to receive unemployment benefits.

Voluntary Leave - as the term suggests by itself, voluntary leave occurs when employee voluntarily, with no fault attributable to the employer leaves the job. In these cases usually, the employee is deemed not eligible for any unemployment benefits. Section 601(A). Of Course, sometimes there can be an argument that although employee initiated termination, there was no work available for such employee or the employee was forced from the employment. In these types of situations, a judge might find a de factodischarge and the employee can be eligible to receive unemployment. De facto discharge could be found even if employee tendered a letter of resignation.

Exception to Voluntary Leave - an exception applies when employee had to leave the employer because of sickness or because the employee had to care for a sick close relative or a child. In this instance, employee will receive unemployment compensation, but the last chargeable employer will not be penalized and the employer's rate will not be affected. Section 601(b). Other exceptions under this sections are:

(a) employee is in a poor physical health;

(b) employee left employment due to a work related sexual harassment;

(c) employee left work due to a verified domestic violence;

(d) employee left the employment to accompany employee's spouse

Another exception to voluntary leave occurs when employee gives a so called "two weeks to notice" to the current employer. Under the current law, the employer must see the end of the two weeks. If for any reason employer lets the employee go earlier, employee becomes automatically eligible to receive benefits.

If a person was discharged, there are several issues that might be considered:

Was there a "misconduct" - "misconduct" is a term of art for the purposes of Illinois Department of Employment Security and is defined as willful and deliberate violation of a reasonable employer's policy, provided that such violation hurt the employer. Section 602(a). Usually the burden is on the employer to prove each prong of the definition of the term "misconduct." By the preponderance of the evidence the employer must prove:

(a) the employee willfully violated the policy. It means that the employee was aware of the employer's policy and violated it at least once before the termination and was adequately warned. Since the burden on the employer to prove the misconduct by the preponderance of evidence, it would help if after each violation employer issues a written warning to the employee.

(b) the employee deliberately violated the policy. Employer has to prove the employee's state of mind at the time of the violation. In other words, simple negligence would not be enough. Usually employee can be found deliberate in violating the policy when after making a mistake at work; employee is trying to hide it from the employer instead of reporting it.

(c) the employer's policy must be reasonable. Usually this prong is very easy to prove. The policy must be directly connected to the employee's duties and performance at work. Almost all employers’ policies can be considered as reasonable as long as there is some nexus with the work itself.

(d) violation of such policy must hurt the employer. This prong is also easy to prove on behalf of the employer. Even though rules of evidence apply in unemployment hearings, they are very relaxed. Anyone can speculate that but for employee's misconduct, the employer wouldn't lose a client or employer's reputation wouldn't be damaged. In other words, the misconduct must be in connection with the employee's work.

Finally, employee's actions or a failure to act must be within the employee's control. Usually unemployment judges look at the very last incident that led to the termination of the employment. If the employee was sick or was involved in a car accident and was late to work, the employee will be eligible for the unemployment benefits even though the employee was constantly late to work.

Felony - under Section 602(b), employer may terminate employee immediately if employee commits a felony in connection with the work for which the employer is not responsible. Usually, a police report is necessary. Under 602(b), no prior warnings are necessary. The only requirement is that the employer must not conspire with the employee in furtherance of the felony.

Refusal to Work - if an individual refuses to accept a suitable work for no good cause, such individual is deemed ineligible for unemployment benefits. Section 603. This is one of the most unsettled areas of Illinois unemployment law. Just as under Voluntary Leave section of the code, there can be a de factotermination. In other words, very often a employee argues that they have been forced out of employment when they were asked to perform some unsuitable work. The burden is on the employer to prove otherwise. The bar is not very high. The employer must prove by preponderance of evidence that the job was suitable. For the job to be suitable it must not require any additional skills, knowledge, responsibility or commitments. Most of the time in these situations, judges would look into the original employment agreement or job description.

The biggest confusion under Section 603 comes when employee is promoted and refuses to work. Even though most of the time promotion means something good, employee has a right to refuse being promoted. If such promotion requires longer hours, more responsibility or employee would need to obtain some additional training; employee can refuse to be promoted. Such refusal would be considered as a good cause and employee will be eligible to receive unemployment benefits.

There are the core substantive concepts of the rules set by Illinois Department of Employment Security. These rules play a very significant role in the formal adjudications for unemployment benefits. Sometimes a fact finder can change the course of the hearing and decide the dispute under a different section than originally determined. Even though these rules are important they are not always determinative. Procedure plays a big role in unemployment disputes as well. We will discuss IDES procedure in a different article.

You are welcome to contact our office for more information. 847.241.1299.



0 #567 Fedor 2017-12-03 22:27

If this is the only reason for your termination and there were no prior warnings, you should be able to get unemployment benefits.
0 #566 Jackie 2017-11-27 16:30
I was fired because I needed to go part time, short-term, and they said they only needed full-time workers, and then I was fired. Can I still receive unemployment benefits?
0 #565 Fedor 2017-11-12 19:38
Friend of a friend,

If he is fired for performance only and not for any violations of a known policy, he will get unemployment benefits.
0 #564 Friend of a friend 2017-11-04 17:50
If an employee at UIUC is being terminated for performance and is interested in resigning rather that being fired. Which optio would allow him to be eligible to receive unemployment benefits?
0 #563 Fedor 2017-11-04 15:12
brownry, yes you will be eligible.
0 #562 brownry 2017-11-03 17:28
If my employer wants to reduce my hours due to losing a client but I do not accept the reduction in hours, am I eligible for UI benefits? I believe they intend to present the reduction in hours as a choice for me to either accept it or resign.
0 #561 Fedor 2017-10-14 16:31
T&Williams, it depends on the causes...and you need to make sure you have a record of discussion with your employer.
0 #560 T&Williams 2017-10-04 15:52
If I resigned with several good causes that were ignored by my boss will I be denied benefits?
0 #559 Fedor 2017-09-21 18:44

If you did do what the employer is accusing you of, it could qualify as misconduct. But remember, the burden of proof is on the employer.
0 #558 Fedor 2017-09-21 18:43

Yes, in our situation the cause of separation would be attributable to your employer. I also suggest that you consult with an attorney who practices in this field to explore other causes of action against your employer.
0 #557 Ron 2017-09-21 15:47
My employer fired me for taking a picture of a customer and sending it to other employees. The say they have a company policy on this that I signed at some point. I was never warned or written up om this before gust fired. Will ides consider this misconduct?
0 #556 Kurtis 2017-09-01 23:31
My employer of 6 months originally stated to me that pay periods are bi-weekly and paychecks are handed out every other Friday. However, I haven't got paid on time once. Sometimes I will not get a check until a day or 2 before my next paycheck is due(which I don't get). There was a pay period where I didn't get a check before the next check was due. When I finally got a check it was only the previous due and not the current one due as well. I am constantly asking my employer for my paycheck. I usually get it a day or 2 after asking, mostly asking several times. This slow paying is making it very hard just to put gas in my car to get to work or food in my belly as I live paycheck to check. Would my situation be a "cause attributable to employer" if I quit and filed for unemployment. Thanks
0 #555 Fedor 2017-08-22 23:00

When you file your appeal to the Board of Review please make sure that you order a transcript from your hearing. You cannot introduce any new evidence and will be bound by the four corners of the transcript only. Good luck.
0 #554 Brooke 2017-08-21 14:37
After being bumped into a new position due to budget. A position I was forced into and didn't apply for. I started looking for a different position in another city. I was offered a position which caused me to have to relocate. After accepting the position and relocating the hiring company went on a hiring freeze. No external hiring was to be done. My unemployment benefits were denied do to voluntary leave with lack of good cause. I am now a little over 6 month pregnant and having a hard time finding a job. And now need to show good cause for leaving my employer. This will be my third appeal. And I am appealing to the Board of Review.
0 #553 Fedor 2017-07-15 14:56

I think you are eligible for unemployment. You did not commit any misconduct.
0 #552 crystal 2017-07-14 19:53
I was released from my job for not getting certifications on my own time and 2 days before I was to take my test.I had been doing the job for over 7 years and the certification would not have affected my work for they were for a job I didn't do and not part of the original hire agreement. Am I still at fault. I spent 690 of my own money for the training to take the tests
+1 #551 Lisa 2017-05-08 15:44
Thanks for all your help. I really appreciate it.
0 #550 Fedor 2017-05-08 15:41
yes. IDES will review your eligibility to receive the benefits.
0 #549 Lisa 2017-05-08 15:38
So even though I won my Misconduct case and am currently receiving my benefits, this phone interview for quitting will decide if the Misconduct case will be cancelled?

Sorry to bother you, just trying to understand.
0 #548 Fedor 2017-05-08 15:29

make sure you do mention all of this. The fact that you had worked for only 9 days doesn't really matter.
0 #547 Lisa 2017-05-08 15:27
Even though the hours were changed by the Employer and it was only for 9 days? I agreed on 8:30-5:00pm. The manager was changing it to 9:30-6:00pm. With public transportation I would not be getting home until 9pm. I did try to find someone who could watch my children from 3pm-9pm but I couldn't. The manager and my trainer both knew that but they told me I was the last one hired so I had to work the messed up hours for awhile. I had no choice but to quit. I can't believe IDES would punish me for not committing child neglect.
I'm always ready and available to work but I can't work late hours with 2 small children and depending on public transportation.
I'm stressed out over this. I feel like I was tricked into the job. Never had an interview, just got the job by word of mouth.
0 #546 Fedor 2017-05-08 15:12

Got it. Yes that 601A interview will have a bearing on your eligibility to receive the benefits. Under the statute you cannot receive the benefits if you quit without any cause attributable to the employer. You also need to exhaust all alternatives to remain employed. This will be a tough one.
0 #545 Lisa 2017-05-08 14:59
I think you misunderstood me. I am looking for work everyday and have been on several JOB interviews. I was saying I won my UE case with the job that fired me after 2 years, making them chargeable.

Now I received a letter from IDES for a phone interview with the adjudicator for the job I worked for 9 days stating 601A.
0 #544 Fedor 2017-05-08 14:52

You need to search for a full time job. If you turn down and dont show up at the job interview without any reasonable justification, you might have a problem with IDES.
0 #543 Lisa 2017-05-08 14:29
Hello, I was fired from my job of 2 years. I applied for UE. While I waited to have my interview for Misconduct, a friend helped me get a job. I was told I would be working one set of hours but when I got there, they changed my hours which caused conflict with my childcare and public transportation. I spoke to the manager and she said I had to work those hours to cover the evening shift. For 8 days I tried to find childcare coverage for the 5 hours I would not be home with my children. I ended up quitting after only working 9 days. I later won my UE case with the 1st job that fired me. Now I received a letter for an interview for the job I quit. Will this effect my UE case that I just won? Need advise ASAP! Interview is this Wednesday.
0 #542 Fedor 2017-04-09 15:33

Generally when an employer increases your work load for the same amount of pay, you can collect unemployment. However, before quitting you need to try and work things out with the employer, versus simply walking out of your job.
0 #541 Fedor 2017-04-09 15:31
Zach sprowls,

It depends. The employer bears the burden of proof that you committed a misconduct.
-1 #540 Fedor 2017-04-09 13:53

I think you need to see a doctor and if the problem is serious enough that it prevents you from working, you need to file a workers' compensation claim.
0 #539 Monica 2017-04-06 20:19
I started a new job in October. I was assigned two account in which I did really good. In January someone was fired, I got 10 accounts and I was diagnosed with MS and Trigeminal Neuralgia. All the medications make me very lethargic, so I can not take them while at work because the work load is a lot. I can not keep up and my health is being effected. If I quit for good case will I be able to collect? I would look for a another job that is less stressful. My health is just as important them my career.
0 #538 Zach sprowls 2017-03-29 07:10
I was teminated for Smoking an e cig. Supervisor claims he aw smoke coming out of my mouth. But I emptied my pockets in front of him. Nothing was done about this until 3 days later. Then I was walked out. And here's the kicker. I do not smoke! At all period. So will I be accepted or denied unemployment?
0 #537 Tjean 2017-03-28 17:05
I am not sure you can answer my questions or help. I worked for a Toyota plant for approximately 6 months last year till November. It was quite loud were I was and required ear plugs constantly in which I wore. Now for the past few months I have noticed my hearing is horrible. I can't hear ir understand what people are saying. I find myself reading lips. Is it possible to get this paid for if I go to doctor about it. I am only in my thirties so it's not old age and didn't have a problem before.
0 #536 Fedor 2017-02-16 20:46
Ms. Belle Property,

You are not chargeable (only an interested party) if the employee had worked for somone else at least 30 days after the employee quit your company.
-1 #535 Fedor 2017-02-16 20:39

not a very good advice. An interview is very informal process. You would have a chance to present your case. There is no danger on incrimination. under 602A the burden is always on the employer regardsless whether you participate or not. If the decision is rendered against you, you can still appeal it within 30 days.
0 #534 Ms. Belle Property 2017-02-15 23:22
Do I have to pay unemployment benefits to an employee who quit and went to work for someone else but got laid off from them after 3 months of employment?
0 #533 fish06 2017-02-10 23:29
I got advice to not take the 602a interview call as to not incriminate myself further due to termination by misconduct. Further, if I do not take the call that the burden would be placed on the employer. Bad advice?
0 #532 Fedor 2017-01-04 16:55

It really could be anything. I think this is just an interview with your caseworker at IDES.
-1 #531 Rick 2016-12-28 23:22
I received my benefits sheet and on same day got a letter in mail for a 602a interview based on a answer "I" gave in my app. I was discharged due to lack of sales by my customers. Will this be a conference call with previous employer or just a clarification on an error on my part?
0 #530 Fedor 2016-11-11 20:43

If you were employed in Indiana, you need to file in Indiana.

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