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Unemployment Compensation Law

An employment separation situation is when an individual’s employment ends for any reason such as lack of work, voluntary quitting or a termination.  In order to obtain unemployment insurance you must apply for it on line with the Minnesota Unemployment Insurance Program,  If you are laid off or your position is eliminated for reasons that are not your fault, then you are eligible for unemployment insurance benefits in Minnesota. To remain eligible you must be available for work and actively seeking work.  However, if you are terminated or voluntarily quit your employment, you may not be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits.  If you quit you are disqualified from benefits unless you can show you quit because of a good reason caused by the employer.  A good reason must be directly related to the employment which the employer is responsible, is adverse to the employee, and would compel an average reasonable employee to quit and become unemployed rather than remaining in the employment.

Who is covered under the Minnesota Unemployment Insurance Law:

Every individual or organization that pays covered wages in Minnesota must register with the Minnesota Unemployment Insurance (UI) Program. Registration should be done as soon as possible after the first wages are paid for covered employment in Minnesota. Registration must occur prior to the due date of the first quarterly wage detail report the employer is required to submit. However, do not register until covered wages have actually been paid.

Certain employers have different registration requirements for unemployment insurance than those stated in the paragraph above, depending on their legal organization and/or their type of business.

Unemployment benefits may not be available to some employees. Types of workers not eligible for Minnesota unemployment compensation include:

  • Self-employed workers, including some owners;
  • Railroad employees;
  • A relative employed by a child or spouse;
  • A minor employed by a parent;
  • Students working for the school at which they are studying or in a work-study program;
  • Minors under the age of 18 who deliver newspapers or advertisements; and;
  • Real estate agents and insurance agents who work only for commissions.
  • Minn. Stat. § 268.035, Subd. 20.


Benefits under Minnesota’s unemployment insurance program are generally 50 percent of a person’s average weekly salary up to a maximum of $597. The program requires one “nonpayable” or waiting week before benefits begin. Individuals who become unemployed again during the same 52-week period will not be required to incur an additional “nonpayable” or waiting week before unemployment benefits commence the second time. Minn. Stat. § 268.085.

What Happens If You Quit:

If you were to quit your job and apply for unemployment insurance, an unemployment compensation judge would make the determination of whether you were entitled to benefits. You must convince a judge that your reasons for leaving were real, not trifling, were reasonable and compelling reasons. If your conditions of employment have been so altered that this caused you a significant disadvantage and that a reasonable person in your position would quit, than you may be entitled to unemployment insurance.

An applicant who quits employment is ineligible for unemployment benefits except, in relevant part, when the applicant quit the employment because of a good reason caused by the employer. A good reason caused by the employer for quitting is a reason:

(1) that is directly related to the employment and for which the employer is responsible;
(2) that is adverse to the worker; and
(3) that would compel an average, reasonable worker to quit and become unemployed rather than remaining in the employment.
Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 3(a).

If subject to adverse working conditions, the applicant must complain of these to the employer and give it reasonable opportunity to correct them before they can be considered good reason to quit. Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 3(c).

What Happens If You Are Terminated:

An employee who is discharged for misconduct is ineligible for unemployment benefits. Employment misconduct means any intentional, negligent, or indifferent conduct, on or off the job that displays clearly: (1) a serious violation of the standards of behavior the employer has the right to reasonably expect of the employee; or (2) a substantial lack of concern for the employment. An employee’s refusal to abide by the employer’s reasonable policies ordinarily constitutes employment misconduct.

If you need assistance with unemployment insurance claims or appeals, please contact me.
John C. Holden
Holden Law Firm

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