Should someone who quits for any reason receive unemployment benefits?

By MARK HARMSWORTH  | 
Dec 17, 2020
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The unemployment system in Washington has been universally criticized this year for its inadequate management, lack of fraud prevention mechanisms, problems with transparency and inability to dispatch its primary function: paying the correct unemployment benefits to the right people in a timely fashion.

Now the legislature is starting to pay attention and is looking to make some changes to the unemployment system. Recent proposals are coming into focus, but not all of the ideas are going to work and be beneficial to our state’s businesses and workers.

Senator Karen Keiser (D), who chairs the Labor and Commerce Committee has proposed removing the adjudication processes for employees that quit their jobs voluntarily. The adjudication process exists today to determine if the reason someone quits their job should qualify them for unemployment benefits.

By changing the unemployment benefit qualification to include voluntary quits, there will be fraudulent claims from less than honest employees. Today’s system doesn’t stop payments to legitimate claims, such as a company moving its offices, closing or other qualifying reasons, but it does stop a disgruntled employee just quitting for no reason and claiming unemployment. Employers pay 100% of the taxes to fund the unemployment fund so they shouldn’t have to pay for employees that quit for no good reason.

ESD has struggled during the pandemic with increased claim payouts and potential fraud from their own internal relaxation of the adjudication rules. When there are no checks, there will be fraud.

Removing the criteria that qualifies an employee for unemployment benefits will further deplete the unemployment trust fund balance and disenfranchise the employers paying the unemployment taxes and employees who legitimately qualify for unemployment benefits.