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I was supposed to start my new job on March 16, after quitting my old job (my last day was 3/1)

I have already signed a contract with my start date included, but two things:

  1. I asked to postpone the start date by 1 week initially because I was battling a cold and didn’t want to risk being a potential Coronavirus carrier and spreading to other patients (I work in a sector of medicine that is deemed non-essential)

  2. When I asked about a tentative reopen date my manager informed me that my contract isn’t active because I technically haven’t worked in the office.

Since this is a unique situation and I have no idea how long until I am able to start, can I qualify to collect unemployment despite quitting my job previously in anticipation with starting this new one?

My old boss doesn’t know I left to go somewhere else- I just said I want to spend time with my child then explore options. So it may be awkward if the unemployment benefits are paid through her office instead of my current/anticipated office- but am I even an employee since I have never gotten a paycheck? Not sure how that even works.

Also, could I file for FMLA either in addition to or instead of as my daughter's daycare is currently closed and I am currently the one caring for her? Or am I being ridiculous and should just wait it out because unfortunately it was just bad timing and I’m not entitled to any of it.

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    I was under the impression in at least some states in the United States, unemployment benefits are only paid if the employee is made redundant, or is fired, not if they quit. Maybe it varies state-by-state. Can you please include your state in the question. – Gregory Currie Mar 24 '20 at 5:36
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    And, do you have a copy of a contract, with some sort of start date mentioned? Paychecks are often used as proof of employment, but it is not the only type of proof. – Gregory Currie Mar 24 '20 at 5:38
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    Does this answer your question? New employer postponing my start date by three months due to COVID-19 – Solar Mike Mar 24 '20 at 7:55
  • Can you go back to your previous job? I would certainly ask. – Tymoteusz Paul Mar 24 '20 at 8:20
  • I think this answer may vary state to state. – Neo Mar 24 '20 at 11:53
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Talk to a local employment lawyer. If you have a signed contract, then it should be valid.

Simply put, employment law varies from place to place, but generally, if you have a signed contract, the terms of that contract are binding on both parties. Regardless of whether or not you've started work with a company, the contract should have become "active" the moment both of you signed it. As a result, I would recommend talking to an employment lawyer in your location about what to do next and what options you possess regarding things like unemployment.

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    And what will happen if as a response for OPs lawyering up the company decides to honor the contract and then simply fire OP, as even if not in an at-will state, OP is certainly in probation period? – Tymoteusz Paul Mar 24 '20 at 8:19
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    @TymoteuszPaul That can be something that the OP can discuss with the lawyer. – nick012000 Mar 24 '20 at 8:22
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While an attorney can probably help you out, they are probably going to charge you for a consultation, unless you have access to some sort of free legal service. So, rather than "lawyering up" initially you might try contacting your local unemployment office to find out if your situation would qualify for unemployment benefits. Another source could be the services office of your local elected representative(s). As you are in the U.S., a state level legislator would be most likely to help, I expect.

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