Unemployment – If My Job Stinks, Should I Quit and Get Unemployment

Sometimes clients and prospective clients ask me whether they should have quit their job rather than stay on until getting fired.  Usually this query comes after a client has already quit her job, so the question is merely philosophical, in that the quit has been done.

Generally, in Maryland, it is a lot riskier for unemployment benefits to quit a job than to stay and get fired.  Maryland does recognize categories of “good cause” and the somewhat-less-meritorious “valid circumstances” for certain types of quits.  However, in voluntary quit cases the employee/claimant has the burden of proof, whereas in misconduct cases management has the burden of proof to show a deviation from the communicated standards of the workplace or from what an employer has the right to expect reasonably in general.

I can only imagine two scenarios where it might possibly make sense from an unemployment insurance basis to choose to quit voluntarily rather than to risk a firing for misconduct.  The first is where the work has become simply untenable, i.e. in the case of a relocation 50+ miles away or perhaps an order from a supervisor to do something clearly unethical, fraudulent or illegal. The second  might be a rare case where the worker might have committed and then concealed relatively serious misconduct, and is seeking to quit when she has arguably perhaps valid circumstances for other grounds – BEFORE the misconduct is discovered.  I am not convinced I would recommend a quit even in this law-school-exam-style scenario.

In general, from a Maryland employment insurance perspective it is far safer and more prudent to stay on the job if at all possible.