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Employment Development Department
Employment Development Department

Suitable Work SW 40

Attendance at School or Training

This section discusses refusal of an offer of, or referral to, suitable employment because of actual or prospective attendance at school.

This section does not apply to cases where an offer of, or referral to, suitable employment is refused during an approved period of training under the California Training Benefits (CTB) program as outlined in Unemployment Insurance Code Section 1269 and 1269.1, or an apprentice as defined in Title 22, California Code of Regulations, Section 1267-1, which prohibit disqualification under Section 1257(b).

A. General

With few exceptions, refusal of otherwise suitable employment because of actual or prospective attendance at school does not constitute good cause.

In Perales v. HRD, a 1973 California Appellate Court case, the claimant quit work to attend school. In holding voluntary school attendance fell short of establishing a compelling reason for leaving work, the Court stated:

… [W]e cannot say that quitting a job to attend school, no matter how personally commendable the step may be, in an imperative and compelling reason of such magnitude as to render the claimant eligible for unemployment benefits, at least in the absence of explicit legislative authority. If this were good cause within the meaning of Section 1256, untold numbers of persons could quit their jobs to attend school while receiving unemployment compensation benefits. However great may be society’s interest in furthering a working man’s education, we find nothing in the Unemployment Insurance Law to sanction this objective. … The unemployment insurance system cannot be used to subsidize an employee’s education.

While this case dealt with a voluntary quit issue, the court’s opinion regarding school attendance and unemployment insurance was quite clear; the unemployment insurance system cannot be used to subsidize an employee’s education and, no matter how commendable the action may be, school attendance is not sufficiently compelling to establish good cause.

Since voluntary school attendance is not considered sufficiently compelling to establish good cause, the claimant would be ineligible under Section 1257(b) if the individual refused an offer of, or referral to, suitable employment due to school attendance or prospective school attendance.

Additionally, the availability of a claimant who refuses work because of attendance at school is questionable. (See AA 40.)

B. Exceptions Providing Good Cause for Refusal

  1. School Attendance Required by Law

    A refusal of work or referral is for compelling reasons when the claimant is legally required to attend school and the offered employment would interfere with his or her schooling. However, before good cause can be established for the refusal, the claimant must pursue the possibility of adjusting hours of attendance or attending continuation school prior to the refusal. (Consult your local school district for such information if necessary.)

  2. Employer Requires Attendance at School or Training

    If the employer requires attendance at school or training to commence after the claimant is hired, good cause for refusing the work will be established when any of the following conditions exist:

    • The claimant is required to pay the cost of the instruction.
    • The claimant receives no pay or drawing account while in training.
    • The place at which the training is to be given is far removed from the claimant’s residence or the training is given at hours or under other conditions which afford the claimant compelling reason for refusal to attend the training. (See also the Section that covers the reason for refusal.)

    Since employers’ training programs can often be adjusted to meet a claimant’s circumstances, it is incumbent upon the claimant to seek such adjustment prior to refusal.

    In the absence of the foregoing conditions, a refusal of work solely on the grounds that the employer requires attendance at school or training will be without good cause.

    If the employer requires the claimant to complete some training before he or she is hired, the offer is a contingent offer and not considered a valid offer of work. Thus, a refusal of such an offer cannot result in a disqualification under Section 1257(b).