An astounding 33 million Americans are unemployed because of the COVID-19 shutdown throughout the U.S. Still, as individual states begin to ease restrictions and the country heads back to work, quite a few workers are hesitant about returning to their jobs. Some of them have legitimate concerns for their health and safety, but there are others whose motives are somewhat questionable—they are making more money on unemployment, so why go back?
It started with the CARES act
The CARES Act, the immense $2.2 trillion relief package signed into law in March, not only expanded the eligibility of workers to receive unemployment—the self-employed and independent contractors could now receive benefits–but it provided an extra $600 per week through the end of July.
These enhanced benefits mean that about half of the workers in the U.S. will be earning more on unemployment than they did at their jobs. With state unemployment included, the average weekly payment to a laid-off worker could be about $978, which is almost twice as much as workers are making in some industries.
As states try to reopen their economies, workers are reluctant to take a cut in pay when they are recalled.
You can’t refuse to go back without a valid reason
To be eligible for the extra $600, workers must be unable to do their job as a direct result of the virus outbreak. Having a sick family member or not being able to commute because of the quarantine are examples of “good cause.”
While good cause is defined by state law, if your employer significantly changes your job, the hours, or your pay rate, you could still be eligible to collect unemployment benefits, even if you received an offer to start working again.
When a worker refuses to return, employers should be asking the worker for the reason they are refusing. If the cause is not one of those provided for in the CARES Act, then the employer should report the refusal to the proper state agency, which means that the worker could be out of work and might lose unemployment benefits.
If your employer is following CDC guidelines, you may not refuse to return
As businesses reopen, they are required to follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These include conducting daily health checks, initiating policies for social distancing, and providing workers with hand sanitizer and soap.
As long as companies are adhering to these guidelines, workers may not refuse to return and remain on unemployment. The fear of virus exposure is not a valid reason for not returning to work. If you reject an employer’s call to return, you have quit your job and will no longer be eligible for unemployment compensation.
Are you not looking forward to returning to your old job?
We can help you move on! Contact the experts at Select Staff, a leader among job recruiters and temp agencies in Dallas and throughout Texas.