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 selecting 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.
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.