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 #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.
0 #529 Jane 2016-11-11 09:15
I am wanting some advise. I live in Illinois and have been working in Indiana. I quit that job due to a few things. I am aware it must be proved not my fault before I can be awarded benefits. My questions and concerns. My payroll department had an incorrect address were they never changed it back.(I was separated for a short time and was moving to Indiana) so they had and still have that address listed. So what state do I file unemployment with? Will the incorrect address cause tax issues?
0 #528 qrtrms 2016-11-03 22:19
I was granted unemployment under mis classified employee. I am wanting to see if I can possibly get my taxes amended as well. I am not looking for money back, just would like to reduce the back amount I owe due to having to pay at such a high rate for company considering me contract.
0 #527 Rick 2016-10-25 20:02
I was "stripped" of my duties and demoted to a much lower payrate/hours. Do I still qualify for UI? With the new rate/hours I will not be able to pay my bills/rent.
0 #526 Fedor Kozlov 2016-09-29 12:34
Jason Riggs,

Union questions are always difficult. You definitely should apply though.
0 #525 Jason Riggs 2016-09-29 03:17
I am going through a divorce and had to find another place to live in another county with a friend. Was told I had 30 days to move back into the county where I was working. I am Union employee. Not a requirement in union contract, but Union rep found out City ordinance had been passed requiring this. Was forced to resign. Will I receive unemployment benefits
0 #524 Fedor Kozlov 2016-09-28 20:09

This is a tough one. The chargeable employer is your previous employer. You did leave the job. The reasons for your departure are not attributable to the previous employer. You might not be eligible. There is a case law, how ever, that says the second employer is an extension of the first one. So you definitely should tell your story about your termination at the second employment.
0 #523 Fedor Kozlov 2016-09-28 20:04

Did you issue yourself a salary? Do you have paystubs or W-2? If not, you can provide copies of the checks that you issued to yourself. You can fill out W-9 at any time. No need to wait till the end of the fiscal year.
0 #522 Brandi 2016-09-28 04:30
I was employed for 5 years as a practice manager for my former employer. I resigned from that position to take a job working for the state of Illinois. On my 2nd day of work I was stuck in unexpected road construction. I arrived to work 2 minutes late and was terminated for it. No warnings had been given and we had not finished going over the rules and regulations from training day one. So now I have an interview for voluntarily leaving my former employer as well as for being terminated. Will I still qualify for benefits?
0 #521 Anita 2016-09-22 18:07
I am self employed and I live in illinois I need to show proof of my income in order to file for unemployment for the next six months. The lady at unemployment said your bank statements are a last resort and that I should see if I can get a 1099 but that does not come out until the end of the year. What can I do to prove I have met the income requirement to file to receive unemployment?
+1 #520 Fedor 2016-09-05 19:21

I am glad to hear I was of some help. 99.9% you don't have to worry being sued. As you mentioned, the state approved your unemployment. My guess is because of you, the state initiated an audit and there could be others who were miss-classified as "contractor" instead of "employee" status.
0 #519 Qrtrms 2016-09-03 04:27
I got some help here last year. I worked for a company with a contract. That contract had expired 7 years prior to them letting me go. I also had done a lot of things and received a lot of things that made me fall into the employee status rather than contract employee. So I filed for unemployment with the state. After providing some documentation and interviews I was approved for the unemployment. Now several months later I was just informed by a friend that is still employed at that company that I was considered an enemy and they have been audited by the state. My questions and concerns are can this company sue me?, do I have anything to worry about? The state is who approved it and awarded me the unemployment?
0 #518 Fedor 2016-08-26 21:05

Well it looks like this was your employer policy to pass the exam and you didnt comply. Ofcourse there is no way your employer can argue you did it intentionally. But if you have any issues, please give me a call. 8472411299
0 #517 Ryan 2016-08-26 17:03
I was hired by an investment company in June and, as a condition of employment, I was required to pass the FINRA Series 7 licensing exam within 90 days. I took the exam on my 39th day of employment but I did not pass. The following day I was terminated for failing to pass. I had an interview with IDES and explained this. Should I be concerned about not receiving unemployment benefits? Aside from not passing the exam, there were no additional performance issues.

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