Can You Draw Unemployment If You Get Fired for Attendance? Answered

Short Answer: After being fired for attendance, you may or may not qualify for unemployment benefits depending on your state’s guidelines. While it is not impossible to be approved for unemployment benefits after firing, your state may consider absence or tardiness as an unemployment-ineligible cause for job loss. For more details, including unemployment policies by state, see below.

Can You Draw Unemployment If You Get Fired for Attendance?

When an employee is terminated for attendance, unemployment approval depends on whether or not tardiness and absence qualify as misconduct according to state guidelines. Your state’s unemployment agency will decide whether you are eligible for benefits or not based on the level of misconduct your state assigns to absenteeism.

We gathered information about unemployment eligibility by viewing official policy documentation from all 50 states and contacting benefits agencies. In the course of our research, we discovered that benefits are generally available only to workers who have lost their job through no fault of their own — so attendance issues can disqualify you. However, you can apply for unemployment benefits after any instance of job loss, even if you are unsure whether you will qualify for benefits.

What Constitutes Misconduct?

All 50 U.S. states adhere to the “at-will” employment policy. This means that employers and employees are free to terminate employment at any time with no notice or reason (though there are some state and federal exceptions, such as the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993).

When it comes to terminating an employee for attendance issues, many states require employers to prove a certain level of misconduct or “just cause” for the firing, such as documentation of written and verbal warnings. Other states have a “disqualification period” during which an employee terminated for attendance misconduct does not qualify for benefits until the disqualification period ends.

What to Do If You Are Disqualified

If you feel that you have been wrongly disqualified from unemployment benefits, you can file an appeal of the original decision within the time period that your state allows. Directions for filing an appeal will appear on your notice of denial, along with the date by which to submit your appeal.

Winning an appeal after you have been denied unemployment benefits will depend on your ability to prove that your tardiness and/or absences do not qualify as misconduct versus your former employer’s ability to prove that it does.

Attendance Termination Policies by State

The table below details each state’s policies regarding termination based on attendance. You can sort the table by clicking the arrows at the top of each column. We viewed documentation from and contacted each state’s unemployment offices to confirm this information.

Keep in mind that although there are federal and state employment guidelines, states make unemployment decisions on a case-by-case basis.

State Who handles unemployment? Is absence or tardiness misconduct? Disqualification period Misconduct criteria Length of time to appeal
Alabama Department of Labor Yes None Warnings you received and steps you took to correct the issue will affect approval or denial 15 days from mailed notice or seven days from in-person notice
Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development Yes Six weeks Case-by-case determination 30 days
Arizona Department of Economic Security Yes None Deliberate company absence policy violation 15 days
Arkansas Department of Workforce Services Yes None Repeated warnings with continued violations of company absence policy 20 days
California Employment Development Department Yes None Willful disregard of company absence policy more than once; your absence must be shown to cause harm to the business 20 days
Colorado Department of Labor and Employment No None None (only "gross misconduct" like stealing disqualifies you from unemployment in Colorado) 20 days
Connecticut Department of Labor Yes None Willful violation of company policy and at least three unexcused absences in 12 month 21 days
Delaware Division of Unemployment Insurance Yes None Unexcused absences; deliberate violation of company absence policies 10 days
District of Columbia Department of Employment Services Yes Eight weeks following termination Violating company attendance policies 15 days
Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Yes None Intentional, controllable, and/or deliberate unexcused absence 20 days
Georgia Department of Labor Yes None Intentional company attendance policy violation; unexcused absences after written warning 15 days
Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations Yes None Unexcused absences after written warning; deliberate disregard 10 days
Idaho Department of Labor Yes None Repeated unexcused tardiness or absences 14 days
Illinois Department of Employment Security Yes None Case-by-case basis; unexcused tardiness and absence 30 days
Indiana Department of Workforce Development Yes None Case-by-case basis; intentional disregard of company attendance policies 10 days
Iowa Unemployment Insurance Services Division of Iowa Workforce Development Yes None Repeated unexcused absences especially after repeated warnings 10 days
Kansas Department of Labor Yes None More than three unexcused absences after written warning 16 days
Kentucky Office of Employment and Training Yes None Willful violation of company attendance policies 15 days
Louisiana Louisiana Workforce Commission Yes None Intentionally violating company attendance policies 15 days
Maine Department of Labor Yes None Intentionally violating company attendance policies 15 days
Maryland Division of Unemployment Insurance Yes 10 to 15 weeks following termination "Simple" misconduct including coming to work late and/or unexcused absences 15 days
Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance Yes None Knowingly violating company attendance policies 10 days
Michigan Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency Yes None Three unexcused absences 30 days
Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development Yes None Unexcused absences 20 days
Mississippi Department of Employment Security Yes None Willfully breaking enforced company attendance policies 14 days
Missouri Division of Employment Security of the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations Yes None Violating company attendance policies 30 days
Montana Department of Labor and Industry Unemployment Insurance Division Yes None Disregard of company attendance policies 10 days
Nebraska Department of Labor Yes 14 weeks Employer must prove employee willfully committed “ordinary misconduct” such as unexcused absence 20 days
Nevada Nevada Employment Security Division Yes None Deliberate disregard of company attendance policies 11 days
New Hampshire New Hampshire Employment Security Yes None Deliberate absenteeism and/or lateness 14 days
New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development Yes None "Simple" misconduct such as unexcused tardiness or absence Within seven days of receiving denial notice
New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions Yes None Intentional, multiple unexcused absences 15 days
New York Department of Labor Yes None Violation of company attendance policies 30 days
North Carolina Division of Employment Security Yes None Violation of written company attendance policies 10 days
North Dakota Job Service North Dakota Yes None Unexcused tardiness and/or absences 12 days
Ohio Department of Job and Family Services Yes None Violating company attendance policies 21 days
Oklahoma Employment Security Commission Yes None Unexcused tardiness and/or absences 10 days
Oregon Oregon Employment Department Yes None Intentional violation of company attendance policies 20 days
Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry Yes None Unexcused absence following written warning 15 days
Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training Yes None Intentionally violating established company attendance policies 15 days
South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce Yes None Intentional unexcused absence after written warning 10 days
South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation Yes None Deliberate violation of company attendance policies 15 days
Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development Yes None Repeated unexcused tardiness and/or absence; intentional disregard of company attendance policies 15 days
Texas Texas Workforce Commission Yes None Failing to give notice for tardiness or absence; attendance policy violations 14 days
Utah Department of Workforce Services Yes None Unexcused tardiness and/or absence; intentional attendance policy violations 15 days
Vermont Department of Labor Yes Six to 15 weeks Repeated tardiness and/or absence qualifies as "simple" misconduct 30 days
Virginia Virginia Employment Commission Yes None Violating company attendance policies: repeated tardiness and/or absence 30 days
Washington Employment Security Department Yes None Repeated tardy and absence after written warning 30 days
West Virginia Workforce West Virginia Yes Six weeks Deliberate violation of company attendance policies Eight days
Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development Yes None “Willful and substantial disregard for the employer” by violating company attendance policies, not including any violations that went uncorrected by the employer Your determination notice will advise how many days you have to file an appeal.
Wyoming Department of Workforce Services Yes None Repeated instances of company attendance policy violations 28 days

Getting Hired After Being Fired for Attendance

It is not impossible to get hired after getting fired for attendance, but it can be challenging. The following tips may help you get back on track:

  • Connect with your former employer, if possible. A reference from someone at the company — whether a former co-worker or former supervisor — will be better than no reference.
  • Network with friends and family. If someone can personally vouch for you, a potential employer may be more willing to overlook your firing history.
  • Be honest and positive. When asked about your previous employment, be upfront about your firing but try to keep your response positive. Relate any less-than-positive experiences as things you have learned from.
  • Focus on the future. While you should accept responsibility for your past shortcomings, emphasize what you have to offer a prospective employer and how you have improved.