Unemployment Benefits and Turning Down a Job Offer
July 13, 2009 6:58 PM   Subscribe

My state's unemployment regulations have a section indicating that turning down a job offer is grounds for terminating benefits. Given that at this point, I'm not being asked to provide them with any data as to whom I'm applying, and given the extraordinarily large number of people on the unemployment rolls, am I correct in saying that turning down an offer really has little practical chance of getting back to them?

(I should also note this is theoretical at this point. I'm not yet dealing with an actual job offer.)
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
One of the questions they ask each week in NY is have you turned down any job offer. First you would have to define a job offer. I am pretty sure that NYS does define this. The question you should ask yourself theoretically is would you be willing to lie on the affidavit each week?
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:06 PM on July 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

I assume it varies hugely place to place, but another element to this might be that if there is a state agency charged with helping people on UI get jobs, and it finds you a listing that matches your skills, they can follow up to weed out the people who are blowing off the listings because they're not genuinely looking for work.

In my experience, this sort of follow-up only happens to unskilled or semi-skilled labor, because those kinds of workers are the kind of people that those kinds of agencies are usually set up to help.

So if there is no agency coaching your job-hunting, or matching you to their job-listings, then I doubt the clause applies in any practical sense.
posted by -harlequin- at 7:23 PM on July 13, 2009

That & if your past employers know you are working they will turn you in. Unemployment sucks but it is paying my bills. I'd much rather be working.
posted by patnok at 7:24 PM on July 13, 2009

It's kind of like taxes, which we pay on the honour system. You might be audited at some point.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:27 PM on July 13, 2009

Are you disclosing to employers that you are in receipt of benefits? If so, then there's always the possibility that if you decline an offer they will report that even if you applied for the job independently and weren't referred to the employer by an agency responsible for supervising job-seeking efforts. IME, it's often really shitty employers who are offering appalling wages and conditions who do this because those people who have any legal obligation to take work are the only people likely to accept their employment conditions. If you're not giving potential employers information about claiming benefits, then it's not an issue.
posted by Lolie at 7:30 PM on July 13, 2009

I was on unemployment several years ago and accepted a position out of state that had a start day a couple months away. I told the unemployment division about it because, by the time the position started, my benefits would have run out anyway. About three weeks later, my car got totalled and I no longer had a way to relocate to the out of state position. I told unemployment that I could no longer take the job because of this, and they terminated my benefits the following week for refusing a job offer.

So it goes.
posted by Ugh at 7:35 PM on July 13, 2009

If you lie, it is likely that you will get away with it, at least for a while.

I would suggest, instead, that you be very honest with your potential employers about your salary and other requirements during the interview stage so that you won't get offers you're unwilling to accept. I realize that this goes contrary to the advice given to most job-seekers, but you're in a weird situation.
posted by decathecting at 9:23 PM on July 13, 2009

What constitutes a serious job offer? I mean, if I offered you a quarter to mow my lawn and repaint my eaves, I'm kinda thinking your state is not going to cut you from the dole because you told me to go to hell and kept looking for a real job. There is clearly a gray area there somewhere, but that's going to be a function of your experience and skills.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 11:46 PM on July 13, 2009

The job also has to pay at least 80% of what you were making at your last position, and be in the same field, for it to fall under the "refuse a reasonable job offer" category. I'm in NY, I had the same problem. I kept getting calls about insurance sales jobs that were literally 100% commission- no base, nothing. (and I know zip about insurance- I sold high end networking, storage, and IP telephony gear!) I called unemployment since I wasn't sure how that would play out. The person I spoke to said the job would have to be something you're trained to do, and the same ballpark as what you were making previously.

Which is funny, as the "we have a job you may qualify for" listings they've been sending me are all in the ballpark of half of what I had been making (some are for less than I get on unemployment!), and only similar in that they involve a computer and a desk. NY is REALLY bad about anything white collar. It doesn't matter what you do, if you worked in an office you'll have someone say "oh, office work, then." and send you shit about clerical jobs and telemarketing.
posted by Kellydamnit at 2:11 AM on July 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

In my state, they require you to keep a log of the places you've applied to with contact information for the person responsible for the position. If they ask you for this form AND follow up by calling the companies, they might find out if you turned down a job. I would recommend you leave any companies that offered you jobs you didn't want off your job search chart.

Some companies might also do background checks or check government records for information on potential employees. Don't know if records of those searches are kept and if the unemployment office has access to them, but that might be another way they'd find out.
posted by Colonel_Chappy at 7:33 AM on July 14, 2009

The job also has to pay at least 80% of what you were making at your last position, and be in the same field, for it to fall under the "refuse a reasonable job offer" category. I'm in NY, I had the same problem.

This requirement changes based on the length of time you're on UI.

I'm sure it depends on the state, but my general advice is not to tell anyone anything that they don't need to know, ever.

I doubt it would get back to them, but telling people you're on UI, telling UI about the job before you start it, all of these things are likely to screw you.
posted by kathrineg at 11:25 AM on July 14, 2009

assume that they will notice this on your records... you can always withdraw your name from consideration, which would technically not be saying 'no' to a job offer. be sure to document this with the employer so there is a record.
posted by dityfleur at 11:46 AM on July 15, 2009

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