Wednesday, September 21, 2005

UC- vol. quit - retirement - speculation

Petrill v. UCBR - Commonwealth Court - September 20, 2005
Commonwealth Court affirmed denial of benefits by UCBR.

Claimant (CL) had worked for employer (ER) for 38 years.  He was on voluntary layoff for 3 weeks in August.  The contract between the ER and the union, of which CL was a member, had expired in July.  As of the date of the referee hearing, contract negotiations were ongoing. 

CL decided to retire while on voluntary layoff.  Continuing work was available to him.  His main reason for the VQ was his belief that  it would be advantageous to him, especially with respect to continuing health care benefits.  This was based on his belief about how the new contract, once completed, would affect those benefits.

Each VQ cases is examined on an individual basis.  In order to get UC benefits on voluntarily retiring, a claimant just proved the he acted with ordinary common sense in retiring and made reasonable efforts to preserve the employment relationship.  The court said that "[w]hile we sympathize with [CL's] feelings of uncertainty, and the predicament that he believed himself to be in, the fact is that he chose to retired base on speculation rather than on what he actually knew to be true.  The law is settled that 'the potential curtailment of medical benefits during the negotiation  for a new [contract] does not meet the 'necessitous and compelling' standard under section 401(b) of the Law. (citing cases).  Essentially, the law is that mere speculation about one's future job circumstances, and attendant benefits, without more, does not render a decision to voluntarily terminate employment necessitous and compelling."

Donald Marritz, staff attorney
MidPenn Legal Services - Gettysburg