Like many families today, military spouses work outside the home to earn extra income. For many military families, spousal employment is a financial necessity. But what happens to that financial support when a military spouse must leave his or her job due to the PCS orders for their military spouse?
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Unemployment Benefits for Military Spouses

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Like many families today, military spouses work outside the home to earn extra income. For many military families, spousal employment is a financial necessity.

But what happens to that financial support when a military spouse must leave his or her job due to the PCS orders for their military spouse?

Companion bills sponsored by State Sen. Tim Barnes, D-Adams, and state Rep. Joe Pitts, D-Clarksville, would make spouses of active military members eligible for Tennessee unemployment benefits if they are forced to quit their jobs because their military spouse is transferred to a new location.

The bill has the support of Gov. Bill Haslam, and he has included $280,000 in his proposed budget to pay for the benefits.

Tennessee is one of 11 states that do not offer unemployment benefits when military families are required to relocate.

Under current state unemployment benefit rules, if an employee voluntarily leaves a job, he or she is not eligible to receive unemployment benefits. The Barnes/Pitts legislation recognizes that military spouses who quit their jobs because of spouse transfers are not quitting voluntarily, but in support of their spouses who serve our country.

It is estimated that 3,000 Tennessee military spouses will have to move to follow their spouses to new assignments each year. Making them eligible for unemployment benefits makes sense and is a concrete way to show support for our military and their families who serve our nation.

The Barnes/Pitts legislation and Haslam's support is one way to offer meaningful support to military families, and one worth taxpayers' investment. And it will not affect unemployment insurance costs borne by Tennessee employers, because it would be funded separately from the state's general fund.



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