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Employment Development Department
Employment Development Department

Voluntary Quit VQ 40

Attendance at School or Training

This section discusses the effect upon unemployment insurance of leaving a job to attend school. The leaving of work may be motivated by the claimant's desire for self-improvement or may be required by the employer or by law. While each claimant's circumstances are unique to him/her, only one of two results is possible: the claimant is either eligible or ineligible for unemployment insurance benefits. For discussion of related availability issue, see AA 40.

A. General Rule

A claimant's desire to attend school is commendable but not compelling.

Title 22, Section 1256-5, provides:

(b) General Rule. Voluntarily leaving the most recent work to enroll in or attend a school or a training course is not a compelling reason to constitute good cause within the meaning of Section 1256 of the code, except as provided. . .

In Perales v. Calif. Dept. of Human Resources, a 1973 appellate court case, the claimant contended that he left his last employment with good cause in that he quit to attend school in order to improve his chances for future employment. In holding the claimant ineligible for benefits, the court stated:

. . .[W]e cannot say that quitting a job to attend school, no matter how personally commendable the step may be, is an imperative and compelling reason of such magnitude as to render the claimant eligible for unemployment 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.

But, as pointed out by the Perales court, explicit legislative authority may overcome a lack of good cause for quitting to attend school if certain preestablished conditions are met.

B. Legislative Exceptions to the General Rule

  1. California Training Benefits (CTB)

    Unemployment Insurance Code Section 1267 provides in part:

    . . .[B]enefits shall not be denied to an individual for any week because he or she is in training or retraining with the approval of the director . . . or for leaving his or her most recent work, if continuing the most recent work would require the individual to terminate his or her training or retraining course of instruction.

    Title 22, Section 1256-5(c) (2), provides:

    [Good cause to leave employment exists if:] Prior to obtaining the most recent work, the individual has been enrolled in a retraining or training course, . . . conducted in California and scheduled on a full-time basis under the requirements of the particular institution, approved by the director under Section 1267 of the code, continuing the work would require termination of the retraining or training course, and the employer does not or cannot adjust the individual's hours of work to allow continuation of the work and the retraining or training course.

    In P-B-466, the Board discussed the legislative intent behind the CTB section:

    The CTB program was created to assist people that are unemployed and, as a practical matter, unemployable. Generally, a person meeting certain eligibility criteria can receive training while receiving unemployment insurance benefits.

    For further discussion see California Training Benefits FOM. That manual reiterates that a quit to enter training is not covered by Section 1267; Section 1267 addresses only those who quit because they are unable to continue in employment because of their schooling. Also note that failure to exercise reasonable alternatives to leaving the employment may negate any good cause for leaving (e.g., a change in working hours to accommodate the schooling, or a change in school hours to accommodate the employment).

  2. Apprenticeship Training

    Title 22, Section 1256-4, provides:

    An individual who leaves work to enter an apprenticeship program. . . does so with good cause if the following conditions exist:

    1. The apprenticeship program is fostered by the State of California.
    2. The new work is potentially as permanent as and potentially substantially better than the former work.

    An apprentice with an apprenticeship agreement negotiated with the Division of Apprenticeship Standards is considered to be eligible for benefits if he/she quits to enter apprenticeship training, if he or she is otherwise eligible.

    If the employer discharges an apprentice before he or she completes the apprenticeship program, conduct a determination based on the reason for discharge, not on failure to complete the training program. If, however, the claimant is terminated for failure to complete the apprenticeship program, consider termination for failure to meet employer requirements.

  3. On-the-Job Training Programs

    In situations where there is no collective bargaining agreement, or the parties to a collective bargaining agreement request, the California Apprenticeship Council may work with entities such as EDD, the Department of Education, and the Board of Governors of the Community Colleges to foster and promote "on-the-job" programs other than apprenticeship. To qualify, the training program must supply:

    • Programs for journeymen in the apprenticeable occupations to keep them abreast of current techniques, methods, materials, and opportunities for advancement in their industry;
    • Programs in other than apprenticeable occupations for workers entering the labor market for the first time, or workers entering new occupations by reason of having been displaced from former occupations for economic, industrial, or technological scientific reasons; and
    • Where appropriate, joint employer-employee cooperation.

    "On-the-job" training refers to training confined to the needs of a specific occupation and conducted at the jobsite for employed workers. To determine if such programs are "approved training" within the meaning of UI Code Section 1267, interviewers should check with the office CTB Specialist or the local apprenticeship council.

  4. Training at the Employer's Request

    Title 22, Section 1256-5(c), provides:

    An individual who voluntarily leaves the most recent work to attend a school or training course leaves with good cause if, at the time of leaving, . . .

    1. The employer has requested that the individual participate in a school or training course.

    If the employer initiates the separation for the claimant to attend school, the employer becomes the moving party to the separation.

    Example:

    The claimant was employed as a head waiter aboard a steamship. On arriving at the port, the claimant was approached by a representative of the employer. He offered the claimant work as a second steward on another ship. The new position required a preliminary training course and, following the completion of training, the claimant was assigned to the new vessel.

    The claimant's decision to leave was a direct result of his conversation with the employer representative. The employer was the moving party in the claimant's leaving the first ship, by making it plain that the employer wanted the claimant to take the job on the latter ship.

    Had the claimant suggested the training and had the employer merely agreed, the claimant would have been the moving party and the separation would have been a quit.

  5. California Compulsory Education Law

    Title 22, Section 1256-5(c)(3), provides good cause for leaving work can be found if:

    The individual was legally required to attend school due to compulsory attendance requirements based on age and could not arrange to continue work for the same employer while attending school.

    Under the California Education Code, all persons between the ages of six and 18 are subject to compulsory full time education unless the minor has graduated high school, has a certificate of proficiency, or is exempted. Minors between ages 12 and 17 may hold part-time work permits. Minors ages 16 and 17 may work full time and attend continuation school (or other designated alternative) at least 4 hours per week if employed or 15 hours per week when not working.

    Youths under age 18 not enrolled in a school program do not qualify for work permits and are therefore not employable.

C. Greater Avenues for Independence (GAIN)

All counties have adopted and implemented a GAIN Act program for county welfare recipients on Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). The level of services and time required for GAIN training are established by the applicable county welfare department; the program is mandatory for some participants, and discretionary for others.

It should be noted that GAIN legislation provides no "blanket" coverage as "director approved training." For some participants it may be months following registration in GAIN before they engage in any actual vocational training. Others may never be able or willing to acquire the basic language, literacy, or other skills necessary to progress to jobs or job training components of the program.

County eligibility workers may counsel AFDC recipients to quit a job involving fewer than 15 hours work per week, and in some cases fewer than 30 hours work per week, in order to maintain their welfare grants. Although the claimant may have been strongly influenced by instructions of his or her eligibility worker, the judgment of eligibility workers is not infallible, and should be accorded no greater weight than advice and counsel that any under-employed claimant might receive from a vocational counselor, teacher, friend, or relative.

If the job is otherwise suitable and the GAIN training may be accomplished around the working hours, a quit to participate in GAIN training will not automatically be considered to be with good cause. Accordingly, the eligibility of an AFDC recipient who quits employment to engage in GAIN "training" that may ultimately lead to better employment is to be resolved like that of any claimant who quits to enter school.

If the GAIN component is such that it meets CTB approved training criteria, good cause could be found if continuing in employment would preclude completion of the approved training.

D. Basic Citizenship Skills

Under Section 245A(b) of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986 an alien must demonstrate that he or she either:

Meets the requirements of Section 312 (relating to minimal understanding of ordinary English and a knowledge and understanding of the history and government of the United States), or

Is satisfactorily pursuing a course of study (recognized by the Attorney General) to achieve such an understanding of English and such a knowledge and understanding of the history and government of the United States.

Inasmuch as federal law rehabilitates previously-illegal persons and requires that an alien adjust his or her status from temporary to permanent residence within given time frames or revert to the prior illegal status, schooling to comply with the requirements of IRCA will be considered a compelling activity rather than merely commendable. The usual strictures apply to any separation to attend school, however, if the claimant could have accomplished the required educational goals without resorting to a quit, the quit will be without good cause.

E. Employer Preemployment Training Class

Some employers operate their own "schools" for training or have future employees attend specialized vocational classes. Typical of such training arrangements are classes to demonstrate particular sales techniques, manufacturers' classes to familiarize the claimant with a product or the skills required to use or repair a product, or to acquaint the claimant with business or operating practices customary in that business. The instructional period may range from a matter of hours to several weeks and may be on the employer's premises or off-site. A secondary purpose of the training may also be to assess the claimant's qualifications and personal characteristics as an extension of the hiring interview, or to generate enthusiasm in the claimant for the product or the employment.

The employer may pay no stipend at all, training-related expenses only, minimum wage, or an equivalent to full pay for the job the claimant will be doing once training is completed. The claimant may leave training for a number of reasons. If the claimant has received wages for the training, the leaving will be considered a voluntary quit and must be adjudicated under principles applicable to the reason for the claimant's leaving. If the claimant received expenses only, the leaving will be adjudicated as a suitable work issue.