An unprecedented number of employees have found themselves needing unemployment benefits during this time of crisis.  Many employees we have talked with have been temporarily laid off or “furloughed” but expect to return to work.  Others, still, have lost their jobs entirely.  The Illinois Department of Employment Security has published a list of Frequently Asked Questions that is helpful in understanding benefits.

If you have been separated from work, remember that in addition to state-funded benefits you will also likely be eligible to receive Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation which could be an extra $600 per week.

Generally, to obtain unemployment benefits an employee must have been terminated through no fault of her own and actively looking for work.   This means that whether you were temporarily laid off, furloughed or let go permanently, you are likely entitled to benefits.

Several employees have asked us if they are entitled to unemployment benefits if they are uncomfortable going to work and decide to resign.  The answer to that is, it depends.  Kate Sedey  touched on this last week with respect to healthcare workers who are asked to work without sufficient protective gear.  And, in their FAQ the IDES provides some guidance to this question saying:

“An individual who leaves work voluntarily without a good reason attributable to the employer is generally disqualified from receiving UI. The eligibility of an individual in this situation will depend on whether the facts of his or her case demonstrate the individual had a good reason for quitting and that the reason was attributable to the employer. An individual generally has a duty to make a reasonable effort to work with his or her employer to resolve whatever issues have caused the individual to consider quitting.”

Whether or not a resignation is for “Good Reason” in this case will likely turn on how dangerous the working environment is and whether or not that environment poses a peculiar danger to an employee (i.e. someone in the more at-risk groups).  This is certainly an issue that the IDES will evaluate on a case-by-case basis.

Several years ago we wrote a blog about caring for yourself while unemployed.  Although things certainly look differently today than they did then, the advice in there remains true.  Take a look here.