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Spousal Relocation and Unemployment Benefits

Updated: May 12, 2020

Your wife just accepted an exceptional position at a new company across the state in Philadelphia. The new position pays more money with added benefits such as healthcare coverage. The new position requires you to relocate with your wife and two kids. Considering your wife will have a higher salary than you, you’re forced to quit your job in Pittsburgh to relocate with your family. Until you get situated in Philadelphia and find a new job, you want to collect unemployment. So what do you have to do?

If you find yourself quitting your position in order to relocate elsewhere with a spouse, unemployment benefits may be tricky to come by. This article explores the relevant Pennsylvania law and the requirements for obtaining unemployment compensation benefits.

Pennsylvania law provides, in part, that voluntarily leaving work without cause of a necessitous and compelling nature makes a claimant ineligible for benefits. A claimant who voluntarily quits continuing work has the burden of proof in establishing good cause for quitting; and, that such cause was real and substantial, leaving the claimant no other alternative.

Under a voluntary quit scenario where one spouse quits his/her employment to follow the other spouse, the claimant must show that the reason for the spouse’s relocation was beyond the spouse’s control, and that such relocation created economic circumstances that could not be overcome or that it was economically impossible to maintain two residences. The claimant must also show the resignation from employment was the direct result of the relocation of the spouse and not by personal preference. A desire to maintain the family unit alone may not be sufficient, but there is a public policy standard which permits joining a relocating spouse to constitute a necessitous and compelling reason for separation under the law.

Essentially, when quitting a position to relocate with a spouse, the claimant must show the quit was beyond his/her control and that the relocation created an economic burden that could not be overcome, or that maintaining two residences was economically impossible. Absent a showing of the aforementioned requirements, a claimant may be ineligible for benefits.

Contact RMN for a consultation if you have any questions or concerns regarding your UC benefit eligibility. Contact an RMN attorney today at or 412-626-5626.


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