Can I Refuse a Job Offer and Still Collect Unemployment Insurance (UI) Benefits?
You can still collect unemployment benefits after refusing a job offer, but only if the job being offered is not considered "suitable employment." A job with overly demanding physical requirements or too low of a wage (as compared to your physical condition or previous job experience) likely would not be considered suitable. But what about a job that is just slightly less desirable than what you would like, or one that requires a somewhat longer commute? In those situations, you may have to either accept the offer, or go without unemployment benefits.
There is no clear definition of what may be considered suitable, since unemployment benefits and appeals of decisions are handled at the state level and based on the individual claimant's capabilities and work history. But this article will give you a general idea of how most unemployment insurance agencies make that determination.
See FindLaw's Unemployment Benefits subsection for more general information.
Is it a Suitable Job?
The term "suitable" is quite subjective and may depend on factors beyond the job seeker's control, such as industry trends and regional unemployment rates. So a job that is unsuitable in a strong economic environment may be the applicant's best option when unemployment remains high, and thus considered suitable. Job seekers whose industry is no longer creating significant job opportunities may continue to collect unemployment while they pursue training in a new industry where there are more jobs (check with your state's labor agency to learn more).
States may consider any of the following factors when determining whether an individual may continue to collect unemployment benefits after refusing a job offer (these are examples, not a complete list):
- Worker has no experience in the position or the field in general
- The job is more hazardous than the worker's last one
- Physical condition of the worker prevents him or her from accepting the job
- Travel costs and time would create a significant burden
- Bad working hours (or not enough hours)
- Wages are substantially lower than the industry standard in the region
- The job is at a location where the current workforce is on strike
But since that dream job may never come along, or broader economic trends may make finding a job particularly difficult for all job seekers, most states eventually require unemployment benefit recipients to lower their standards.
If you believe you were unfairly denied benefits after turning down an offer, you may appeal your claim. Consider speaking with a labor lawyer in your area if you need help with a claim.