This question comes up a lot.  Frequently, an employer pays wages late, does not pay overtime, or just stops paying an employee.  The employee wants to leave the job, but is afraid that he would not be entitled to employment benefit because he left voluntarily.  The employee is then stuck at the job with the incomplete or late wage payments without means to look for another job.

The fears of not being entitled to unemployment benefits are justified because, in general, a voluntary quit without good cause would result in denial of unemployment benefits.  However, a voluntary quit with good cause should not result in denial of unemployment benefits.

Many conditions may provide good cause for leaving employment.  In general, to qualify for unemployment benefits, the employee who voluntarily leaves employment must have had a compelling reason for doing so and must have made a reasonably prudent attempt to resolve the problem and protect the employment.

Non-payment of wages amounts to good cause for voluntary leaving employment, provided the employee attempted to resolve the problem, and would not automatically disqualify the employee from receiving the unemployment benefits.