Last week, the PA Senate Labor and Industry Committee approved S.B. 1083, the Follow the Active Duty Spouse Act, which codified Unemployment Compensation benefits for military spouses when there is a relocation.
Currently, if an active duty member of the Armed Forces transfers to a new duty station, and if, as a result, their spouse is forced to resign their employment, it is technically possible under Pennsylvania law that the resignation would be deemed not compensable. Generally, workers who voluntarily leave employment without a “necessitous and compelling” reason risk not qualifying for UC benefits.
This legislation would clarify that a spouse’s move to follow their active duty spouse will not be considered voluntary if the Department of Labor and Industry determines that continued employment would be impractical or unreasonably difficult.
According to data from the Defense Manpower Data Center, there are nearly 2,000 military spouses in Pennsylvania. Based on data from states that track the unemployment claims of military spouses, the estimated annual impact on Pennsylvania’s UC system is less than $100,000.
The PA Chamber opposed an unrelated amendment offered by Sen. Lindsey Williams, D-Allegheny, to grant UC eligibility to striking workers. The amendment failed on a party-line vote.
The bill now goes before the full Senate.