Voluntary Quit VQ 500
Wages and Time
This section discusses whether good cause for leaving the most recent work exists when an individual leaves work due to dissatisfaction with wages or the various elements of time. If a collective bargaining agreement exists, see Section VQ 475.
Title 22, Section 1256-22(b), provides:
An individual who leaves work due to dissatisfaction with some aspect of wages has left work with good cause if the leaving of work is for . . . the following reasons:
(1) The wages paid by the employer are less than the minimum wages required by federal or state law and the employer refuses to pay such minimum wages.
Quitting work because wages were less than the minimum standards set by law will, without exception, constitute good cause for quitting, if the employer refuses to rectify the situation.
Both the State of California and the Federal Government have minimum wage statutes. The State laws apply to most employees working in California and the Federal laws apply to all persons engaged in interstate commerce.
The Industrial Welfare Commission promulgates industry and occupation orders that cover most employees and employers in California. Essentially, the orders set minimum wages and regulate hours and establish working conditions. Where federal and state laws appear to conflict, the more restrictive law controls. California's labor laws are, over all, more restrictive than federal law and therefore usually prevail.
Since minimum wages are subject to change, specific information may be obtained through the field offices of the Industrial Welfare Commission. Federal Government minimum wage information may be obtained through the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor.
- Dissatisfaction With Wages
Title 22, Section 1256-22(c), provides:
An individual who leaves work due to dissatisfaction with some aspect of wages has left work without good cause if the leaving of work is for . . . the following reason:
(1) The individual knew the wages at the time of hire but later leaves work because such wages are not commensurate with his or her experience, or are less than wages paid in prior employment, or are less than prevailing wages paid for similar work in the locality.
Claimants will sometimes quit stating the pay was "not enough to live on." Even if the statement appears true, standing alone it will not support a finding of good cause. Having made the decision to accept a lower paying job, the claimant will not have good cause for voluntarily leaving the employment because of later dissatisfaction with the wage.
Additionally, if a claimant leaves work because his or her income is less than unemployment insurance, the quit would be without good cause. For example, a seasonal worker may have a weekly benefit amount at or near maximum, but, during the off season, be unable to qualify for anything other than unskilled work which may, after taxes, net less than the unemployment insurance benefit. If a claimant quit under such circumstances, the claimant would, in essence, be quitting in order to receive unemployment insurance. If that were the sole reason for the quit, the claimant would be subject to disqualification.
- Violation of Agreement or Misrepresentation
Title 22, Section 1256-22(b), provides in part:
An individual who leaves work due to dissatisfaction with some aspect of wages has left work with good cause if the leaving of work is for any one or any combination of the following reasons:
(4) The employer substantially breaches the agreement with an employee as to the agreed rate of pay.
(5) The employer makes substantial misrepresentations to the employee as to the . . . wages of the job.
When a claimant quits because of alleged violation of the agreement concerning wages, it is first necessary to ascertain the exact terms of the agreement between the claimant and the employer. Some employers provide employees with handbooks or other printed materials designating wages paid to various classifications. In the absence of such formal arrangements, some employers simply tell employees what wages they can expect to receive, and this leaves a wide area for misunderstanding as to the exact terms of the agreement.
In recruiting workers, there is an obvious responsibility on the part of the employer to provide complete and accurate information regarding duties, wages, hours, and working conditions, so that a prospective employee is in a position to form an opinion as to suitability and acceptability of the work. Any significant misrepresentation on the employer's part shows a lack of good faith. Upon discovery of the misrepresentation and after discussing with the employer to no avail, a newly hired employee would have good cause to quit.
In P-B-296, an experienced carpenter living in Grass Valley, California, accepted off-season work in a remote area of Nevada. He took the job pursuant to an agreement guaranteeing at least 13-1/2 hours overtime weekly, and room and board furnished at a nominal rate. He quit after three weeks because the employer did away with the overtime and raised the cost of room and board by 50%. This reduced the claimant's earnings 33%. In its decision, the Board found:
In the instant case, the claimant left his work primarily because the agreement of employment concerning the amount of overtime to be worked and the cost of room and board was materially breached. . . . Under the facts of this case, we conclude that the claimant left his last employment for good cause . . . .
In some instances, the wage specified in the agreement of hire may be conditioned upon factors such as the claimant's demonstrated degree of skill or knowledge. In such cases, a breach of the agreement may or may not constitute good cause for a claimant to quit. This will depend largely upon how the wage received compares with wages the claimant could expect to receive elsewhere for like work, i.e., is the wage commensurate with the claimant's experience.
Where there has been no breach of agreement or discrimination by the employer, a quit involving denial of a wage increase will be without good cause so long as the wage received compares favorably with the prevailing scale.
A claimant may also leave work because of incidental expenses incurred on the job which the claimant feels are not a part of the hire agreement.
Title 22, Section 1256-22(c), provides in part, a claimant has left work without good cause if:
(2) The work has incidental expenses and the employer has no duty to provide for such incidental expenses, such as special clothing, tools, or gasoline, and (A) it is customary that the individual worker pays the incidental expenses; or (B) it is not customary that the individual worker pays the incidental expenses but such expenses are minor or are compensated by bonus, premium wages, or other remuneration paid by the employer.
A hypothetical example serves to illustrate this principle. If a carpenter who worked in the building construction industry was advised by the employer that it was necessary for him to supply his own hand tools and he quit because he did not want to do so, he would not have good cause if it was customary for carpenters in building construction in the area to furnish their own hand tools.
It does not necessarily follow that good cause for quitting will exist solely because expenses incident to the job were not customary for the occupation, industry, or locality. Such a conclusion would disregard the fact that expenses incident to the work might have been compensated by premium wages or other remuneration, in which case the claimant would not have good cause. Or the expense incident to the job might have been trifling, for example, having to purchase a particular colored pen for several dollars. A claimant who quit because of such incidental expense would not have good cause for leaving even though such expense was not customary for the occupation, industry, or locality.
- Method or Time of Payment
Method: Wages are compensation for services rendered and may take the form of money paid in cash, by check, or by other value given, such as board and/or lodging. The usual method of payment of wages is by negotiable check or cash. However, wages in the form of board and lodging are common in domestic service and agriculture. Usually, when wages are paid by other than the common method of cash or negotiable check, the contract of hire specifies the method of payment. Quitting because of objection to the method of payment generally will not provide good cause for quitting.
Time: The State Labor Code provides that all wages, with the exception of wages to farm labor, domestic help, and governmental employees, are due and payable at least twice during each calendar month. Regular paydays must be designated in advance by the employer. Employees must be duly notified of any change in time and method of payment. Labor performed between the first and the fifteenth, inclusive, of any calendar month must be paid for between the sixteenth and the twenty-sixth day of the month during which the labor was performed. Labor performed between the sixteenth and last day, inclusive, of any calendar month must be paid for between the first and tenth day of the following month. All wages earned for labor in excess of the normal work week must be paid no later than the payday for the next regular payroll period.
A claimant who quits because the employer failed to comply with the provision of the Labor Code regarding the time of payment of wages due would have compelling reason for quitting, provided the infraction was not an isolated instance. Circumstances beyond the control of the employer, such as natural disaster, could delay the payment of wages due.
Claimants sometimes quit because the time of payment is changed from weekly to semi-monthly paydays. The fact alone that the time of payment was changed would not give a claimant good cause to quit, provided the time of payment still conforms to the State Labor Code provision.
- Wage Reduction
An employer is often forced to reduce wages for economic reasons. However, the fact that the employer's declining business necessitated reducing employee wages, does not impose a duty upon the employee to accept the reduction. In cases involving wage reductions, good cause is measured by the reasonableness of the claimant's actions in relation to the circumstances existing at the time of quitting.
Title 22, Section 1256-22(b), Comments provides:
. . .[I]f factors other than a pay reduction influence an individual's decision to leave the work, all such factors are evaluated to determine whether a reasonable person genuinely desirous of retaining employment would have left the work. . . . However, a pay decrease of 20% or more, taken alone, is a substantial reduction in pay to establish good cause for leaving work where the employee is notified of a transfer or demotion to another position with the employer. Pay includes the basic wage, shift differentials, board and room furnished by the employer and guaranteed overtime. Pay also includes fringe benefits such as vacation pay and insurance if such fringe benefits are currently available or set schedules and information to value fringe benefits for the former and other position are available.
In P-B-124, the claimant had been placed on a temporary layoff for a definite period of time. He quit after being offered the choice of remaining on layoff indefinitely or transferring to work as a laborer at a 20.96% reduction in hourly wage. The Board held that the claimant acted reasonably in refusing the downgrade and stated:
. . . [W]e find that this reduction in pay (20.96 percent) is sufficiently substantial, in and of itself, to conclude that the claimant had good cause to leave his work.
However, in the majority of wage reductions, good cause must be measured not by any one individual factor but rather by the sum total of all factors surrounding the leaving.
This principle was discussed in P-B-88. In this case, when informed of his impending layoff from work as a lab associate, the claimant tried unsuccessfully to find other work at a comparable salary. On his last day of work he refused the offer of downgrading to comparable work as an instrument precision repairman at a decrease in pay of approximately 11%. In its decision, the Board stated:
. . .The leaving must be measured by the reasonableness of the separation in light of all the circumstances existing at the time the claimant is offered a downgrade in lieu of layoff . . . . The offered work as a repairman did not deprive the claimant of any skill needed to function as a test and development lab associate. The claimant would have retained all rights to be recalled as such associate and had no seniority rights under the collective bargaining agreement to lose. His decision to take the layoff was based solely on a reduction of approximately 11.2 percent at a time when he was fully aware he had no prospects of other work . . . . The reduction in pay did not constitute a compelling reason for leaving work when all other factors existing at the time favored continued employment as the best alternative. . . . The factors other than wage reduction appearing in these cases, and which bear upon the decisions are:
- The claimant's prospects for securing other work at a wage commensurate with his prior earnings;
- Whether the claimant was aware of the labor market as it affected him;
- The comparative skills required.
Among the other factors we have also considered are:
- Substantial prospects of other employment based upon objective facts known at the time of election;
- The distance and cost of commuting;
- Loss of seniority and recall rights;
- Opportunities for advancement in the lower classification.
It should be noted that all of the factors cited in P-B-88 will not be pertinent to every case. However, the appropriate ones must be considered and their individual importance must be weighed along with the wage reduction, before good cause can be properly determined. If the sum total of the factors show that the claimant's actions were those of a reasonable person desirous of maintaining employment, good cause would exist for the quit.
P-B-127 is an example where the Board weighed several of the factors in addition to the wage reduction. In this case, the claimant chose layoff rather than accepting a downgrade from electrician's helper to work as a laborer at a wage reduction of ten and one-half percent. Although he had no prospects of comparable employment elsewhere, the claimant thought he might forget some of the things he had learned if he accepted the laborer's position, and he hoped to find electrical work. In concluding that the claimant had quit without good cause, the Board considered the possible loss of skills, the length of time the claimant could expect to remain in the downgraded position, and the condition of the potential labor market in addition to the wage reduction. In its decision, the Board held:
. . . we do not believe that the classification of an electrician's helper which is below that of apprentice involves any significant or substantial skills. . . . Inasmuch as he asserted that he believed he would shortly be recalled, it is apparent he would have lost no appreciable amount of skill in the electrician helper's job by taking the laborer's job . . . . [T]he claimant admittedly had no knowledge of any openings for employment elsewhere when he elected layoff. . . . His limited skills in electrical work could furnish no foundation for a reasonable belief that he could secure work in a depressed labor market within his preferred field.
- Commission or Piece-Rate
Title 22, Section 1256-22(b), provides a claimant will have good cause for leaving employment if:
(3) . . . the leaving is due to the fact that an individual after diligently working on a piece-rate or commission basis for a reasonable time is paid substantially less than the wages prevailing for similar work in the locality.
Section 1256-22(c), holds good cause for leaving work will not exist when:
The individual leaves work because it is compensated on a commission or piece-rate but the compensation is not substantially less than the prevailing wage for a reasonable time for similar work in the locality and the method of compensation is customary in the industry or occupation, or the individual fails to work for a reasonable time in order to determine the level of compensation. If the prevailing wage cannot be determined, the individual who leaves work because it is compensated on a commission or piece-rate basis has left without good cause unless his or her commissions or other remuneration are substantially less than prior earnings and the reduction is not due to any fault of the individual such as lack of effort or failure to follow the employer's instructions.
Piece Rate: When the method of arriving at the wage is based on the customary practice in the industry or business, a quit for dissatisfaction with the method of computation will not constitute good cause, unless the resultant wage is substantially less than the prevailing wage for similar work in the locality.
Unlike the principle that once a claimant accepts a position with full knowledge of the working conditions he or she cannot thereafter have good cause for leaving because of dissatisfaction with wages, when wages are based on a method of computation where income can only be ascertained after the work is performed, the claimant must first try out the new method for a reasonable time. A claimant who assumes that wages will be reduced because of a new method of computation, and quits without trying the new method, does not have good cause for quitting.
Commission: Salesmen who work on straight commission will frequently quit, stating that they could not earn a living wage. While it is often difficult to determine prevailing rate of pay for commission sales, when it can be determined, good cause for quitting will depend upon a comparison of the earned commissions with the prevailing rate. However, where the prevailing rate cannot be determined, commissions earned will be compared with prior earnings. A claimant will have good cause for quitting if:
1. The claimant's earned commissions are substantially less than prior earnings;
2. The low commissions are not due to any fault on the part of the claimant, such as lack of effort or failure to follow instructions.
Many employees, such as salesmen, are paid on a straight commission basis with no weekly or monthly guarantee. Their earnings may vary greatly from week to week depending on the product, season, time when commissions are paid, amount of time actually spent in working, etc. To determine whether the earnings were within the prevailing range, it is necessary for the interviewer to find out how much the earnings were over a reasonable length of time. Low earnings over a short period of time would not furnish compelling reason for quitting if they would be offset by large earnings during peak periods.
An example of a situation in which good cause for quitting would not exist might be a salesman whose earnings averaged a satisfactory wage over an eight-month period but dropped substantially in the ninth month because of the seasonal nature of the product. If the salesman quit for the sole reason that his earnings were low for one month of the entire period of employment, he would not have good cause.
However, even where commission earnings are consistently low, a claimant will not have good cause for quitting IF the low earnings are due to lack of effort on the part of the claimant.
P-B-294 is an example of a case where the employer alleged low earnings were caused by lack of effort. The claimant was employed as a retail milk solicitor on a straight commission basis. He had no previous sales experience. Over a two-month period, he earned less than minimum wage. Other employees,
doing the same work, earned considerably more for the same period. The employer contends that the claimant would have made better earnings had he followed instructions given by the employer and that his failure to earn more money was his own fault. In finding the claimant eligible, the Board stated:
The claimant had no prior experience as a salesman and had given the work an extended trial without success. The employer's contention that the claimant could have substantially increased his earnings by following a different course of action than that which he had been following is conjectural and there is insufficient evidence to support a finding that the claimant over an extended period of time deliberately followed a course of action which resulted in such low earnings for full-time work.
However, had the evidence shown that the low earnings were attributable to the claimant's deliberate failure to follow the employer's instructions or failure to put forth sufficient effort, there is little doubt that the Board would have held no good cause.
- Failure or Refusal to Pay
It would obviously be unreasonable to expect a person to work without a reasonable certainty that he would be paid for his services.
Title 22, Section 1256-22(b) provides a claimant has good cause to leave work if:
(2) The individual has no reasonable assurance of payment of wages when due, or the employer repeatedly does not pay wages when due, or the employer willfully refuses to pay wages when due.
Thus, a claimant will have good cause to quit when the employer frequently pays with bad checks. Even where the employer makes restitution, frequent instances of bad checks will give a claimant good cause for quitting. However, an isolated instance of an employer's paying the claimant with a bad check will not, standing alone, give the claimant good cause for quitting, provided the employer promptly corrects the situation.
Likewise, a claimant will have good cause to quit when the employer is frequently late paying his wages. One isolated instance of late payment of wages will not give the claimant good cause for quitting.
A claimant's belief , based on hearsay, that the employer is financially insecure will not provide good cause for quitting, as long as the claimant receives his or her wages when due.
An employer who willfully refuses to pay wages when due is acting in violation of the State Labor Code and is subject to penalty for such action. A claimant will have good cause for quitting whenever an employer willfully refuses to pay wages which are due. Disagreements can arise between the employer and employee as to whether certain wages are due. Even though the claimant is sincere in his or her belief that they were due, the claimant will not have good cause for quitting unless the facts clearly establish that the wages actually were due.
Occasionally a claimant will quit work because the employer refused to grant a payroll advance or allow the individual to "draw" on his or her wages before the regular payday. Many employing establishments have rules prohibiting such a practice or limiting it to emergency situations. However, even in the absence of such rules, quitting because the employer will not make an advance on wages is normally a quit without good cause.
Title 22, Section 1256-22(c), provides:
An individual who leaves work due to dissatisfaction with some aspect of wages has left work without good cause if the leaving of work is for . . . the following reasons:
(5) The employer refuses to make an advance on wages, except that good cause exists if advances are required by the employer's rules and the individual meets the requirements of such rules.
- Deductions for Shortages, Breakages, Etc.
Where a claimant has quit because the employer deducted certain amounts from his or her wages to cover shortages, breakage, etc., good cause will depend upon whether the employer has acted reasonably and legally.
Title 22, Section 1256-22(c), provides the claimant will not have good cause for leaving work if:
(3) The employer demands reasonable periodic deductions from the individual's wages for cash shortages, or breakage or loss of equipment caused by the individual's culpable negligence or willful dishonesty.
This is in line with Section 2865 of the State Labor Code, which states in part:
An employee who is guilty of a culpable degree of negligence is liable to his employer for the damage thereby caused to the employer.
"Culpable negligence" is defined in Black's Law Dictionary as "Failure to exercise that degree of care rendered appropriate by the particular circumstances and which a man of ordinary prudence in the same situation and with equal experience would not have omitted."
However, even where an employer's action is otherwise reasonable, it can be rendered unreasonable by the size of the deduction from a single pay check. It would be unreasonable for an employer to deduct eighty percent of an employee's paycheck, leaving the employee insufficient money to live on.
In the absence of willfulness or gross negligence, it is illegal for an employer and employee to agree (formally or informally) to permit deductions from the employee's wages to cover shortages or breakage. Such action is prohibited by Section 206.5 of the State Labor Code which states in part:
No employer shall require the execution of any release of any claim or right on account of wages due, or to become due, or made as an advance on wages to be earned unless payment of such wages has been made. Any release required or executed in violation of the provisions of this section shall be null and void . . .
Consequently, unless the employer can clearly establish that the cash shortage, breakage or loss of equipment is caused by a dishonest or willful act, or by the claimant's gross negligence, the employer has no legal right to withhold any wages due.
In P-B-457, the Board addressed a situation where deductions were taken from the claimant's pay for an overload citation and subsequently, for short load damages. The claimant had previously signed an authorization which permitted the employer to deduct the cost of damaged products from his wages. The claimant protested the deductions to the payroll authority and principal owner of the corporation because the employer had paid the overload citation, which the claimant would have pursued in court since he did not load or seal the alleged overload. The claimant also protested the short load charge, denying any responsibility for the loading. The claimant quit and pursued the matter in small claims court. In its decision, the Board stated:
Wages are not ordinary debts. . . . [B]ecause of the economic position of the average worker and in particular, his dependence on wages for the necessities of life for himself and his family, it is essential to the public welfare that he receive his pay promptly . . . . Unless specifically excepted by law, the employer may not make deductions from wages (Labor Code Sections 203, 216, and 222). Consequently, the failure of an employer to pay wages when due provides good cause to quit without disqualification from unemployment compensation unless there is some legally recognized exception. . . . Labor Code Section 213 permits an employer to divert wages to guarantee the payment "for the necessities of life or for the tools and implements used by the employee in the performance of his duties." However, deductions may not be made for matters over which the employee had no control . . . . The claimant's wages were not diverted to pay for necessities or tools of the trade, and there is no proof that the losses were due to causes over which the claimant had control.
In this case, the employer claimed, in effect, the right to decide whether the claimant was to defend against the vehicle citation along with the right to attach a portion of the claimant's wages to satisfy its claim against the claimant for damages sustained by the employer. This amounted to an attachment. "Attachment" is a proceeding to take a defendant's property into legal custody to satisfy a judgment . . . . It is a legal process issued only by a court of competent jurisdiction . . . . The employer made no application to a court for the right to attach the property of the claimant - namely, wages due him in the possession of the employer.
Finally, the employer maintains that the claimant executed a wage assignment which permitted the employer to withhold a portion of wages. By its own terms, this "assignment" is totally unrelated to the matter in dispute. The agreement governed "damaged products," not traffic citations or mistakes in loading.
The Board concluded that the claimant had good cause to quit because of the illegality of the wage attachment. For a further discussion of what constitutes a reasonable pursuit of remedy prior to quitting, refer to VQ 5.
Title 22, Section 1256-20, provides:
- This section relates to whether good cause for leaving the most recent work exists when an individual's leaving of work is due to various time elements which may cause the individual to leave a job, including days of the week, hours, overtime, part-time or full-time work, seasonal employment, and temporary employment. . . .
- An individual has voluntarily left the most recent work with good cause if all of the following conditions exist:
- There was a real, substantial, and compelling reason for leaving work due to those conditions of work that relate to the elements of time considered in this section.
- The individual informed the employer of the reason for leaving.
- The individual allowed the employer a reasonable opportunity to adjust the situation.
If a claimant leaves work due to dissatisfaction with hours or time, his or reasons must be real, substantial, and compelling in order to be considered good cause. When an employer changes the time schedule, he or she is in effect changing the agreement of hire. However, such a change does not automatically give the claimant good cause for quitting. When the required days, hours, shifts, etc., result in undue hardship for the claimant or are contrary to the law, he or she will have good cause for leaving. Undue hardship exists when the claimant has compelling reason for not wanting to work the required days, hours, shifts, etc. Good cause is not established when the claimant quits because hours, days, or shifts are inconvenient, undesirable, or interfere with other activities such as self-employment.
When circumstances provide the claimant with a compelling reason for quitting, good cause is negated if he or she does not express the dissatisfaction and allow the employer an opportunity to adjust the work schedule. An employer can and may make adjustments to permit an employee to continue working. Therefore, the claimant should not assume that it would be useless to discuss a change in work schedule with the employer.
- Days of the Week
Title 22, Section 1256-20(c)(1), Comments provides:
. . . An employer's requirement that an employee work on a particular day, holiday, or number of days in a week is reasonable if it is necessary for the conduct of the employer's business and is not unusual, arbitrary, or imposed for the purposes of harassment of the employee. . . .
The fact that work on a given day or days is not customary in an occupation or locality does not, of itself, establish that the employer's requirement is unreasonable. Unless the requirement appears unusual, arbitrary, or imposed for the purpose of harassment, it should be accepted as reasonable. Even though the requirement is not customary for similar work in the locality, it may be necessary for the conduct of the employer's business. For example, it normally would be unreasonable for an employer to require an office clerk to work on Christmas Day just because the office would be quiet that day and the individual would be able to accomplish a great deal.
On the other hand, if the office clerk was employed in a hospital where it was his or her duty to complete the records of the incoming and outgoing patients, the requirement to work Christmas Day could well be necessary for the normal conduct of the employer's business.
In P-B-209, the Board considered the case of a baker's helper who quit work because he refused to work Sundays. The claimant was hired to work Monday through Saturday. Due to a change in the union contract from a six-day week the employer changed his employee's workweeks, with the result that the claimant was required to work on Sundays. The claimant had three minor children with whom he wished to attend church each Sunday and spend the rest of the day. Since he felt he could not spend the proper amount of time with them under the new work schedule, the claimant quit. The Board stated:
. . . the refusal of the claimant . . . to work on Sundays as required by the employer was for noncompelling reasons and he . . . voluntarily left his work without good cause. . . .
Mere preference, inconvenience or slight hardship does not establish good cause for quitting a job rather than work the day(s) required. On the other hand, undue hardship resulting from a change in schedule could establish good cause for quitting if the claimant informed the employer of the reason for quitting, allowing the employer an opportunity to adjust the situation. (See VQ 90 if conscientious objection is involved.)
"Hours" refers to the claimant's objection to a work schedule that lacks uniformity, working too many or too few hours, or the number of hours worked each day, week, or month. Leaving work because of a noncompelling objection to "hours" does not constitute good cause for quitting. However, if the objection is based on a real, substantial, and compelling reason, such as injury to the claimant's health or undue hardship, the claimant would have good cause for leaving if he or she had attempted to adjust the situation with the employer prior to quitting.
A claimant will also have good cause to quit when the required hours of work violate statutory or regulatory standards. For good cause to exist in such cases, it is not necessary that the claimant file a complaint with the Industrial Welfare Commission. The filing of such a complaint is merely useful as verification that the condition complained of by the claimant existed. However, to establish good cause, the claimant must attempt to adjust the matter of hours with his employer prior to leaving and the claimant must actually have quit because of the violation of law.
Example 1 - Failure to Seek Adjustment:
In P-B-8, the claimant, a salesclerk, had worked for two years on a rotating shift. She quit when her request for time off on Mother's Day, was refused by the employer. In an interview, the claimant said she quit because the employer refused to adjust her working hours or transfer her to another store. The employer replied that the claimant did not complain about her working hours or request a transfer, but left work when her request for a day off was refused. In its decision, the Board stated:
. . . [I]n applying the provisions of Section 1256 . . . we must look to the reasons the claimant had for leaving work and if these reasons are not of a compelling nature, then good cause may not be found even though it may be revealed that the employer in some respects was in violation of certain provisions of the law regarding conditions of employment . . . . We are not required to investigate the total employment relationship to ascertain if the employer has in any manner violated the Labor Code unless the claimant has left work because of such violation . . . . Although the claimant quit when her request for a day off was refused . . . when she filed her claim she stated she left work because of the hours she was required to work . . . . [T]he record shows that the claimant worked the same shift for a considerable period of time without any complaint . . . and no attempt to obtain a transfer . . . . [A]n individual genuinely desirous of retaining employment would have informed her supervisor of her dissatisfaction with the hours she was required to work, thus affording the supervisor an opportunity to make a satisfactory adjustment.
The claimant . . . left work with no explanation to the employer . . . . [Her] failure to seek an adjustment prior to . . . leaving . . . work negates any good cause she may otherwise have had. . . .
Example 2 - No Undue Hardship:
In P-B-301, the claimant, a practical nurse, had been hired on a part-time basis. Subsequently, her hours had been increased to forty hours a week. When notified that her hours would be reduced to sixteen per week, or two days each week, the claimant quit. The Board said:
. . . the claimant left her work without making any effort to obtain other . . . full-time [work]. She has presented no evidence . . . that working part-time would have caused any undue hardship which would require her instead to become totally unemployed. There was nothing to prevent the claimant from seeking other work while working on a part-time basis, as she would have had ample time to do . . . . [T]he claimant . . . left her work without good cause.
Example 3 - Noncompelling Objection:
In P-B-280, the claimant was under the impression when he was hired that he was to work on alternating swing, graveyard, and day shifts. The employer assumed that the claimant accepted the work on a straight day shift basis. After working one and one-half days, the claimant quit when he learned he was assigned to a regular daytime shift. He wanted alternating shift work so he could supplement his earnings by additional daytime employment while working nights. In its decision, the Board stated:
The . . . [claimant's] objection . . . is that the hours interfered with his desire to increase his salary from 'extra' work which he might obtain during the day. [T]he claimant's desire for additional income is understandable but it does not . . . justify a finding of good cause for leaving his employment.
Example 4 - Compelling Objection:
In P-B-281, the claimant lived about fifteen miles from her place of employment. She worked a split shift from 10:15 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and from 5:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., five days a week. Due to the distance, the claimant was unable to return to her home between the split shifts. Because of the split shift and the total travel time to and from work, the claimant was required to remain away from home about fifteen hours a day. For a considerable period of time, she had been accustomed to resting at the home of a fellow worker during the three hours between shifts. When the fellow employee was replaced, the claimant lost her place of rest. The claimant attempted to pass the time between shifts by knitting and remaining at her employer's establishment. The claimant was forbidden to do so. The claimant voluntarily quit because it was too tiring to spend the three hours walking about the streets of the city. The Board stated:
. . . [T]he claimant left her employment . . . because she did not have an opportunity to rest between shifts . . . . Considering the length of time the claimant was required to remain away from home . . .[she] had . . . compelling reasons for leaving her employment . . . .
Thus, a claimant has voluntarily left the most recent work with good cause if all of the following conditions are met:
- There was a real, substantial, and compelling reason for leaving work.
- The claimant informed the employer of the reason for leaving.
- The employer was afforded a reasonable opportunity to adjust the problem.
Last Revised: 01/18/2022