Can You Quit Your Job If Your Boss Changes Your Health Insurance ?

In Steinberg Vision Assoc. v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 154 Pa. Commw. 486, 624 A.2d 237 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1993), the Court held that an employer's unilateral alteration of an intrinsically valued benefit and the corresponding reduction in compensation could give a claimant a necessitous and compelling reason to quit his or her job. Id. at 240. The claimant in Steinberg quit her job after her employer notified her that the health insurance she previously received was going to be changed. The new insurance policy offered significantly less coverage and had a higher deductible. In order to keep her old coverage, the claimant would have had to pay $ 170.68 per month, which would have been subtracted from her wages. Id. Since her wages remained the same, this amounted to roughly a 14.2% loss in earned compensation. Id. This Court, in affirming the decision of the Board to grant benefits, reasoned that the employer's change in employee health benefits marked a significant change to the employment contract, as well as a significant reduction in the claimant's compensation. This Court held that there is no talismanic percentage that determines when a unilateral change in the terms and conditions of employment is substantial, but that each case turns on its own facts. Id. at 239. The Court stated that the 14.2% reduction was right on the cusp of what should qualify as substantial. Id. the Court also noted that this impact would likely increase in the future based on the steady increase in insurance policy premiums over the course of the claimant's employment. Based on the facts of the case, this Court decided that the reduction in earned compensation was enough to provide the claimant a necessitous and compelling reason to quit under Section 402(b) of the Law.