Quitting

Quitting a Job

If you are thinking about quitting your job or already quit your job, you should start on this page. If you were fired or laid off, go here.

Can I get unemployment if I quit my job?

Unemployment is intended to reduce suffering caused by involuntary unemployment, so you must have “good cause” for quitting your job to qualify for benefits. According to the law, you may only receive unemployment benefits if you quit for one of the following reasons:

  1. I quit my job because I accepted a new job before I quit.
  2. I quit my job because of my own illness or disability or the illness or disability of a family member.
  3. I quit my job because I relocated with my spouse as part of a mandatory military transfer.
  4. I quit my job to protect myself, or a member of my immediate family, from domestic violence or a stalking situation.
  5. I quit my job because my pay was cut.
  6. I quit my job because my hours were cut.
  7. I quit my job because my worksite changed and caused a problem with commuting.
  8. I quit my job because my worksite safety deteriorated.
  9. I quit my job because of illegal activities taking place at my workplace.
  10. I quit my job because a change in the work violated my religious convictions or sincere moral beliefs.

I quit my job for many reasons, what do I put on my unemployment application?

The unemployment application is concerned with your primary reason for quitting. To qualify for unemployment benefits, you must have quit for one of the “good cause” reasons listed above.

I told my employer a different reason for quitting, is that okay?

You are not required to tell your employer why you quit. However, some “good cause” reasons for quitting require you to try and solve the problem with your employer before quitting. For example, before quitting due to a disability, you must pursue reasonable alternatives with your employer (see below). Similarly, worksite deterioration and illegal activities at work frequently require you to notify your employer of the problem.

Do I have to give notice? 

There is no legal requirement that you give notice to your employer when quitting. Likewise, your employer is not required to give you notice before termination.

I quit my job because I accepted a new job.

If you quit your job because you had another job offer, you may be able to establish “good cause” to quit if you can show the following:

  1. Before quitting your job, you had a definite job offer (You must have the job offer before you quit and the job offer must not be dependent on further interviews or education)
  2. The person offering the job to you had the authority to offer you a job (For example, the owner or hiring manager.)
  3. You agreed upon a start date and the terms and conditions of employment with your new employer (For example, your hourly or salary rate, vacation days, work schedule, etc.)
  4. You stayed at your previous job for as long as possible before starting your new job. (The law can be very strict with this requirement. A gap of more than 2-3 days will need to be explained with regards to how the gap in employment helped you prepare for your new position.)

For more information, see RCW 50.20.050(2)(b)(i) and WAC 192-150-050.

I quit my job because of my own illness or disability or the illness or disability of a family member.

If you have not quit yet, consider that you may qualify for Paid Family Medical Leave. If you were injured on the job, you may qualify for Workers’ Compensation. You cannot receive more than one of these programs at the same time.

If you quit your job because of your illness or disability or the illness, disability, or death of a family member, you may be able to establish “good cause” to quit if you can show the following:

(1) You left work primarily because of the illness, disability, or death.

(2) Your illness or disability, or the illness, disability, or death of your immediate family member made it necessary for you to quit.

(3) Before quitting, you exhausted all reasonable alternatives to quitting, including telling your employer about your condition (or the condition of your immediate family member) and any special modifications that you might need to continue working.  If you need special modifications, you may need to provide a doctor’s note that outlines the necessary modifications.

(4) If your employer offers you an alternative job to accommodate you and you refuse the job, you must show why that job was not “suitable” for you. See RCW 50.20.100 and 50.20.110 for more information.

You may be excused from exhausting all reasonable alternatives to quitting if you can show that going through such alternatives would have been futile. For example, alternatives may be futile if the illness or disability means you will never be able to return to your position. 

What is considered a disability?

A “disability” means a sensory, mental, or physical condition that is recognized by or diagnosable by a medical professional.  You must show that you have been diagnosed with the disability and the disability substantially limits your ability to perform your job.

Who is in my immediate family?

Your immediate family means your spouse, children, step-children, foster children, parents of either spouse, and other relatives who live with you.

For more information, please refer to RCW 50.20.050(2)(b)(ii) and WAC 192-150-055.

I quit my job because I relocated with my spouse as part of a mandatory military transfer. 

If you quit your job because you relocated with your spouse as part of a mandatory military transfer, you may be able to establish “good cause” to quit if you can show the following:

(1) Your spouse’s new duty station is outside your labor market in Washington or in another state or territory that allows benefits to individuals who quit work to accompany their military spouse. Contact WorkSource to find out if you are living in such a state or territory.

(2) You stayed in your previous job for as long as possible before the move.

You will not be able to establish “good cause” for quitting if you are relocating to your spouse’s home of record or if your spouse is (or has) separated from the military and is relocating elsewhere. Basically, if you are moving because your spouse completed his or her military duty, you are not eligible for benefits under this category.

For more information, please refer to RCW 50.20.050(2)(b)(iii) and WAC 192-150-110.

I quit my job to protect myself, or a member of my immediate family, from domestic violence or a stalking situation.

You must show that it was necessary to leave work to protect yourself or your immediate family members from domestic violence or from stalking. Follow these links to learn more about domestic violence and stalking.

When you file, your address is not automatically confidential: click here to learn about the Address Confidentiality Program.

I quit my job because my pay was cut.

If you quit your job because your pay was cut by at least 25%, you may be able to establish “good cause” to quit if you can show that:

Your employer cut your usual pay (the amount of money you and your employer agreed upon as part of your employment agreement) by at least 25%.  The reduction is determined by the most recent pay, salary, or other benefits you received or accepted on a regular basis. You will want to submit paystubs showing the reduction in pay or be prepared to testify in detail as to the reduction. 

For more information, please refer to RCW 50.20.050(2)(b)(v) and WAC 192-150-115.

I quit my job because my hours were cut.

If you quit your job because your employer cut your hours by at least 25%, you may be able to establish “good cause” to quit if you can show the following:

(1) Your employer cut your usual hours.  Usual hours are determined by the number of hours you agreed to work as part of your employment agreement.  If you are a seasonal worker, your hours are determined by the number of hours you usually work in a season.  If you work under a piecework agreement, your usual hours are the number of hours it customarily takes you to complete a set volume of work.

(2)  The Employment Security Department will only consider your regular working hours.  Overtime or temporary duties will not be considered.

For more information, please refer to RCW 50.20.050(2)(b)(vi) and WAC 192-150-120.

I quit my job because my worksite changed and caused a problem with commuting.

If you quit your job because your employer changed your worksite and the change caused a problem with commuting, you may be able to establish “good cause” to quit if you can show that your employer changed your worksite; that change caused your commuting distance or time to have substantially increased, and your increased commute is greater than is usual for workers in your occupation/field.

You will not be able to establish “good cause” for quitting if you knew of the commute when you were hired.

For more information, please refer to RCW 50.20.050(2)(b)(vii) and WAC 192-150-125.

I quit my job because my worksite safety deteriorated.

According to the law, you can expect that your worksite complies with state and federal health and safety regulations.  If you become of aware of safety issues AFTER beginning work, you may be able to establish “good cause” to quit by showing the following:

(1) You told your employer, supervisor, or manager about the safety issue.

(2) You gave your employer, supervisor, or manager a reasonable amount of time to correct the safety issue and he failed to correct the issue. Note: if the safety issue poses a threat of serious bodily injury or death to any person, your employer, supervisor, or manager must correct the issue immediately.

For more information, please refer to RCW 50.20.050(2)(b)(viii) and WAC 192-150-130.

I quit my job because of illegal activities taking place at my workplace.

If you quit your job because of illegal activities taking place at your workplace, you may be able to establish “good cause” to quit by showing the following:

(1) You notified your employer of the illegal activity.

(2) You gave your employer a reasonable period of time to fix the problem or situation.  Note: you are not required to notify your employer if your safety is at-risk or if you are not required to under other state and federal laws (i.e. whistleblower protection laws).

For more information, please refer to RCW 50.20.050(2)(b)(ix) and WAC 192-150-135.

I quit my job because a change in the work violated my religious convictions or sincere moral beliefs.

If you quit your job because of a change in your work that violated your religious convictions or sincere moral beliefs, you may be able to establish “good cause” to quit by showing the following:

(1) Your employer changed your usual work AFTER you were hired.  Usual work refers to the work you agreed to do upon hire.

(2) The new work requires you to violate your religious beliefs or sincere moral convictions.  Disagreeing with the way your employer runs his business is not enough.

(3) You notified your employer that the change in your usual work violates your religious beliefs or sincere moral convictions (unless to do so would have been futile).

(4) The change in work directly affects your religious beliefs or sincere moral convictions.

For more information, please refer to RCW 50.22.050(2)(b)(x) and WAC 192-150-140.

I quit to enter an apprenticeship program.

If you quit your job because you are entering an apprenticeship program, you may be able to establish “good cause” to quit by showing the following:

(1) The apprenticeship program is approved by the Washington state apprenticeship training council.

(2) Prior to leaving work, you had a confirmed start date; and

(3) You continued in your employment for as long as was reasonably consistent with whatever arrangements were necessary to begin the apprenticeship program.

“To enter” includes apprentices who: accept temporary work with an employer who is not a party to the apprenticeship agreement and quit to reenter training or quit work for a participating employer to ender a different apprenticeship program.

“To enter” does not include apprentices who: at the time of quitting work were not enrolled in an apprenticeship or pre-apprenticeship training or current apprentices who temporarily stop work  for participating employer to attend related instruction that is a required component of the apprenticeship agreement.

For more information, please refer to RCW 50.20.050(2)(b)(xi) and WAC 192-150-160