HR Question of the Week – February 15, 2015


I have an employee who has been taking some classes outside of work. Since starting the coursework, her attendance and performance have suffered greatly. She recently came to us and acknowledged that she could not keep up with work and her course-load. She has decided that she will no longer be able to work. She has asked us to lay her off so that she can qualify for unemployment benefits. Should we honor her request?


I advise against laying off this employee so that she can attempt to receive unemployment benefits. A company should only lay off an employee when there is truly a lack of work for a given position. If you intend to hire another employee for that position once she leaves, for example, it would be inaccurate to call it a lay off and could expose your company to charges of unemployment insurance fraud.

From your description, it does not sound like this is a situation where there is a lack of work. Instead, it is the employee’s personal obligations that are causing her to be unable to meet her current job requirements. Calling this situation a lay off is not only untrue but could create additional expense and risk for the company. If you were to lay her off and she was able to collect unemployment benefits, your unemployment insurance rate would likely be negatively affected.

If you would like to have this employee return to her current position after her class ends, you could consider offering her an unpaid leave of absence. Taking time to complete outside schooling is not a protected reason for leave, so you are not required to offer her this option. Unless you decide to offer her an unpaid take a leave of absence, it sounds like you will need to accept this employee’s statement that she will no longer be able to work for you as a resignation.

Source: HR Support Center | Copyright © 2017 AdvaPay Systems, LLC

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