The government wants you to work. It also does not want you to fall into poverty. That is why it provides unemployment insurance and attaches strings to it. One of which is that you must be actively pursuing a new job.

What happens if you are an electrical engineer and you are offered a job at a burger joint? Are you forced to take the job or can you pass on it for a job more suited to your technical skills?

Unemployment requires you to accept a job if it becomes available, but only if it is “suitable” for you. Suitable does not mean that you get the perfect benefits package, salary and perks, but rather it means that you are able to physically do the job, and it is comparable to your previous job experience.

Basically, you don’t have to accept jobs that are below your qualifications, but what about the jobs that “toe the line?” For example, a job that is a long commute or is in the same field but below your skill or experience level.

It is possible that you may face the decision of either taking a job you don’t want or foregoing unemployment insurance. It is hard to peg down what precisely will happen. However, the state will typically look at these factors:

  • Your physical condition and the demands of the job.
  • The hazards of the job offered compared to those of your previous job.
  • Whether or not you can get sufficient hours or a good shift.
  • How much experience you have in the field.
  • If you are facing significant travel costs, like an onerous commute.
  • If the wages are substantially lower than your past or what is common in the area.

Consider each factor carefully because it could jeopardize your unemployment. If you or a loved one believes that your rights as an employee are being violated, then you may want to speak to a lawyer. The lawyer could assess your situation and act on your behalf to try to find a resolution to your dispute.