What is considered “good cause” if you recently quit a job?

There may be many good reasons why you had to leave a job. You need to tell your DTA worker why you left when you apply for or receive SNAP. “Good cause” for quitting a job includes:

  • You lack state-standard child care during the hours of your work, including when you lack special needs child care for a disabled child.
  • You have a family crisis or emergency that you have to deal with during your work hours.
  • The employer makes unreasonable work demands, such as not paying you on schedule.
  • Employment becomes unsuitable because it is below the federal or state minimum wage; the work activity discriminates against you on the basis of sex, race, religion, ethnic origin, or physical or mental handicap; there is a strike or lockout; the employment places unreasonable risks on your health or safety; the hours interfere with your religious observances; you are required to travel more than two hours/day or, if walking, to walk more than two miles round-trip.
  • If you were working more than 20 hours a week, and, for reasons beyond your control, your employment stops or your wages go down.
  • If the amount you are paid in a week equals what you would be paid if you worked at least 20 hours and you were paid the federal minimum wage, and, for reasons beyond your control, the employment stops or wages decrease. For example, you work 10 hours a week at $16/hour, or 20 hours at $8/hour. The Federal Minimum Wage in 2014 is $7.25.
  • You left employment because it was seasonal or migratory, or you are between temporary jobs.
  • Acceptance of another job or enrollment in a school or training program requires you to move away or to leave your job.
  • You are under age 60 and resigned from your job but your employer considers it retirement.

See 106 C.M.R. § 362.340 and the additional good cause provisions in 106 C.M.R. § 362.330(A).

You don’t have to show good cause for leaving a job if you are exempt from work registration requirements. 106 C.M.R. § 362.340.  

Even if not exempt, you do not need to prove “good cause” if you left employment because the employer fired you or asked you to quit, if you reduced your hours of work but did not leave your work, if you stopped a self-employment business or if you quit a job for a new job that fell through. 106 C.M.R. § 362.340(D).

Additional Guidance
  • DTA hearing officers have issued favorable decisions overturning DTA denials for voluntary quit including where the employer misled the worker about the wage rate, failed to honor a reasonable request about working conditions, failed to pay the legal overtime rate, failed to guarantee the work hours that were promised, failed to pay promised health insurance, failed to reimburse for on-the-job travel, and where good cause involved domestic violence, family emergencies, lack of transportation or child care. Contact MLRI for sample appeal decisions.
  • Advocates may also find helpful arguments and case law on “voluntary quit” in MLRI’s 2015 Unemployment Advocacy Guide, http://www.masslegalservices.org/unemploymentadvocacyguide
  • It is DTA’s obligation to inform you about your rights and responsibilities when you apply for benefits. 106 C.M.R. § 361.550. This includes telling you at application and each recertification which household members are subject to the work requirements, and the penalties for voluntarily quitting a job after you apply for benefits and/or refusing to comply with the work requirements.

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Produced by Patricia Baker and Victoria Negus
Last Updated January 2016

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