Senator Lisa Baker Working to Support Military Families

(HARRISBURG) – Senator Lisa Baker (R-20) is working to close a loophole preventing military spouses from collecting unemployment.  Currently, if an active duty member of the Armed Forces is transferred, and if, as a result, his or her spouse is forced to resign their employment, it is possible, under Pennsylvania law, that the resignation would be considered voluntary and they may not qualify for benefits. 

“Our existing unemployment compensation law is unfair to military spouses who relinquish their job as part of a transfer to a new duty station,” Senator Lisa Baker said.  “Nearly every state provides protection for a spouse caught in this difficult situation.  Regrettably, Pennsylvania is one of the few lacking this sensible protection. Supporting the brave men and women in uniform who serve our country, must also include addressing the challenges that arise for their families.”

The Pennsylvania Senate unanimously advanced Senate Bill 1083, which clarifies that a spouse’s move to follow his or her active duty spouse will not be considered voluntary if the Department of Labor & Industry determines that continued employment would be impractical or unreasonably difficult.  Pennsylvania is one of only four states without a specific military spouse clause. According to data from the Defense Manpower Data Center, there are nearly 2,000 military spouses in Pennsylvania.

“The cost of doing this is not large. But the cost is not the compelling consideration here; it is the principle,” Senator Lisa Baker said.  “We ask a lot of the individuals who serve in our armed forces.  We frequently acknowledge the risks and hazards they must confront.  Yet, we do not acknowledge enough the disruptions in the lives of their families.  By protecting the economic position of their spouse, we come that much closer to fulfilling our substantial obligation to those who serve to protect us.”

Senate Bill 1083 now advances to the House of Representatives for consideration.

MEDIA CONTACT: Kate Flessner kflessner@pasen.gov 717-787-7428