Q: In illinois, does unpaid medical leave make you eligible for unemployment benefits?
I am still employed but unable to do my job because of an injury (not work related); therefore, I was placed on an unpaid medical leave of absence and am receiving no pay. I am able to do some form of work; however, my job requires me to stand for long periods of time, which I am unable to do. As an example, I could do work at a desk, but my employer does not offer that.
A: I'm sorry to hear about your injury. If you haven't already, you should ask your employer for a light duty assignment supported by a doctor's note indicating the need to do work that does not require standing for long periods of time. The employer would then have the duty to explore alternative job changes you might be able to perform.
If you can no longer perform the core duties of your job, because standing is essential to your job, you may no longer qualify to do your job - which would not be your employer's fault.
While unpaid medical leave does not automatically make you eligible to collect unemployment benefits, note the following law:
o Voluntary Leave: Voluntary Leaving Disqualification An individual will be ineligible to receive benefits if he has left work voluntarily without good cause attributable to his employer. The disqualification continues until the individual has become reemployed and has had earnings equal to or in excess of his current weekly benefit amount in each of four calendar weeks which are either for services in employment, or have been or will be reported pursuant to the provisions of FICA. (Section 601)
There are seven exceptions that exempt the worker from disqualification even though he has left work voluntarily without good cause attributable to the employer:
• 1. When the worker is deemed physically unable to perform his work by a licensed and practicing physician, or where the worker leaves work upon the advice of a licensed and practicing physician that assistance is necessary for the purpose of caring for his spouse, child, or parent who is in poor physical health, and such assistance will not allow him to perform the usual and customary duties of his employment. In either instance, the worker must notify his employer of the reason for leaving before the exception will apply. (Section 601B1
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