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Can I Refuse a Job Offer and Still Collect Unemployment Insurance (UI) Benefits?

Imagine you are collecting unemployment when you get a call back about a job application. While you are interested in finding employment there are reasons why you would not accept the specific job offered. What do you do if they extend an offer?

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. Unemployment benefits and appeals of decisions are handled at the state level and based on the individual claimant's capabilities and work history. 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 subjective and may depend on factors beyond the job seeker's control, such as industry trends and regional unemployment rates. A job that is unsuitable in a strong economic environment may be the applicant's best option when unemployment remains high and the job could be 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 about these opportunities.

Factors in Finding a Suitable Job

States may consider any of the following factors when determining whether an individual may continue to collect unemployment benefits after refusing a job offer:

  • Worker has no experience in the position or the field in general
  • The job is substantially more hazardous than the worker's prior job
  • Physical condition of the worker prevents them from accepting the job
  • Travel costs and time would create a significant burden
  • Irregular working hours or significantly different from the workers' prior job
  • Wages are substantially lower than the industry standard in the region
  • The job is at a location where the current workforce is on strike

General economic trends may make finding a job difficult for all job seekers. Since your dream job may never come along, 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.

Get Professional Legal Help If You've Been Denied UI Benefits

Unemployment benefits can be an important lifeline. They provide a means of support while you locate a suitable job. Most workers have already paid into the unemployment system our entire working lives. If you've been denied unemployment claims or have concerns that they may be denied, you should contact a local labor law attorney today.

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