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Employment Development Department
Employment Development Department

Suitable Work SW 360

Personal Affairs

This Section discusses the eligibility of claimants who refuse work, or a referral to work, because of personal affairs.

Unemp. Ins. Code, Section 1257(b), states that a claimant is ineligible for benefits if he/she without good cause refuses suitable work. "Good cause" is defined in Title 22, Calif. Code of Regulations, Section 1253(c)-1(c)(4):

"Good cause" means a compelling reason, one which would influence a prudent person in the same circumstances as the claimant, and who is genuinely desirous of working, to impose the restriction. A finding of good cause depends on a determination that the claimant had no reasonable alternative for discharging the obligation . . . . Reasons of ambition, prestige, taste, or similar motives, though they may be commendable in certain instances, will usually not be considered to constitute good cause."

Therefore, when the claimant refuses an offer of work or referral because of personal affairs, it must first be determined that:

Many reasons for refusing an offer of work or referral are compelling and would lead most reasonable persons in the same position to refuse the referral or work. Jury Duty, death in the immediate family, and unlawful detention, in addition to those reasons discussed in the other SW Sections, are some of the more common circumstances which may constitute compelling reasons.

When a claimant refuses a referral or offer of work because of incarceration, self-employment, public service, or retirement, refer to BDG AA 360 to determine whether good cause exists. The same principles used to determine good cause for restricting availability are applicable to refusals of referral or work.

However, the claimant who has good cause for refusing a job or referral because of personal affairs, may be considered unavailable for work for the same reason. For example, the claimant was given a referral to suitable work late Monday afternoon. The claimant was to report directly to the employer at 8:00 a.m. the following morning. On her return home, she received a phone call informing her that property she owned in another city had burned, and that her presence was needed to take care of the insurance and other legal matters. She left immediately. The claimant called the prospective employer Tuesday afternoon. She explained her emergency and asked to reschedule the interview for the following Monday since she would not be returning until Saturday. The employer was sympathetic, but said he could not hold the job. The claimant had good cause for not reporting promptly to the prospective employer. However, because she was unavailable for four days while attending to the personal affairs, she would be ineligible for benefits for that week under Section 1253(c).

Conversely, a claimant may restrict availability for noncompelling personal reasons and not be considered unavailable for work, but a claimant who refuses work for these same personal reasons, will have refused suitable work without good cause. To illustrate, the claimant restricts his availability to exclude one particular employer. Since there are several hundred prospective employers in the claimant's labor market, he is not considered unavailable by the restriction. However, when offered employment with this particular employer, the claimant refuses for these same personal reasons and would be ineligible for refusing suitable work without good cause.

The mere fact that the claimant's reason for refusing work is personal does not automatically make the reason noncompelling. Many individuals genuinely desirous of obtaining employment have personal business of such a compelling nature that they cannot accept employment at that particular moment.

However, no matter how compelling the personal business, the claimant must make every reasonable attempt to postpone attending to the personal affairs. If postponement is not possible, such as in the case of a subpoena or funeral attendance, the claimant should contact the employer and attempt to reschedule. If it would be possible to reschedule the personal affairs to allow the claimant to apply for the suitable work, and the individual makes no attempt to do so, he or she will be ineligible for benefits under Section 1257(b).