Question: In Pennsylvania, can you be eligible for unemployment benefits if you quit to care for a sick family member or relative?
Answer: Pennsylvania unemployment law states that a claimant is ineligible for benefits under Section 402(b) when they quit or resign from their employment unless the claimant can establish that they had necessitous and compelling reasons for quitting and that all alternatives were exhausted prior to quitting.
In order to establish eligibility for benefits when a claimant quits to care for a sick family member or relative, the claimant may face difficulty obtaining unemployment benefits. The initial determination may deny benefits requiring the claimant to file an appeal. To establish eligibility, the claimant will have the burden of proof to show that they had “no real choice” but to quit their employment and that the employee made reasonable efforts to preserve their employment.
Several factors must be considered when determining whether a claimant had “no real choice” but to quit their employment to care for a sick family member or relative. For example, are there any other family members or caregivers that could have provided care, the distance between the claimant and the family member, the nature of the family member’s illness, the relationship between the claimant and the family member, whether the claimant could provide care during non-work hours, whether the employer would provide the claimant scheduling flexibility in order for the claimant to provide care to the family member, and whether a job transfer is an option. The leading cases on this topic are Beachem v. UCBR, 760 A.2d 68 (Pa. Commw. 2000) and Wagner v. UCBR, 965 A.2d 323 (Pa. Commw. 2009) .
If you received a denial of benefits due to quitting to care for a sick family member or relative, please feel free to contact me for a consultation. My phone number is (484) 362-9286. Please note that my office is located in Bethlehem, PA, and I primarily represent clients in Northampton and Lehigh County.