Am I Eligible for Unemployment Benefits?

I received the following question from a reader this week:

I was recently placed on a 60-day PIP (Performance Improvement Plan). If I am not successful and am terminated, will I still be eligible for unemployment benefits?

Yes. Generally, when your employer decides that you are not performing up to standards or that you do not have the required competencies for the role or that you are not a culture fit and terminates you, you will be eligible for benefits.

I’d recommend documenting everything from your point of view, keeping good records, and also showing how you tried to meet the standards. This documentation will help show that you tried to do your job to the best of your abilities.

Gross misconduct will likely make you ineligible for benefits. These would be for things like theft, violence, making threats, harassment, or insubordination. In addition, if you write a resignation letter, and then try to claim benefits, you obviously will not win the claim. I have seen employees try to do this in the past unsuccessfully. This is the main reason your friendly HR Manager or your direct manager will usually ask for your resignation in writing. They want the letter for evidence.

Surprisingly, attendance violations are hit or miss. For example, if you rarely come to work or stop coming altogether and are subsequently terminated, you may still be eligible to receive benefits.

Keep in mind that some companies choose not to oppose any claim, and others will fight every single claim through appeals. Most organizations use a third party vendor (like their payroll company) to manage their claims for them.

Disclaimer: I do not work for nor have I ever worked for a state unemployment insurance department. However, I have been involved in disputing claims as an employer and have also been involved in several appeals meetings.