Unemployment Answers for People Fearful of Returning to Work
If all goes well in the upcoming weeks, Illinois business will begin to reopen and people will be returning to work. This is definitely good news for Illinoisans, but the news also brings up many questions for workers currently claiming unemployment due to COVID-19.
We may be flattening the curve, but most health professionals and scientists agree that we are far from reaching the end of this COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses will have to follow strict safety regulations in order to be labeled as a "suitable" work environment, but many people are still nervous about returning to work and potentially exposing themselves to the virus. Not to mention many workers are receiving more money on unemployment with the added COVID-19 relief than they would be if they were actually back on the job.
So now the big question is, if you are called back to work during the pandemic, and you refuse to return due to safety concerns, can you still claim unemployment?
The answer is, NO.
According to CNBC;
Employers who follow federal, state and local safety measures and call employees back to their former jobs will likely be recognized as providing “suitable work.” Workers cannot refuse suitable work and get any kind of unemployment benefits, says Michele Evermore, a senior policy analyst with the National Employment Law Project. They also can’t remain on unemployment simply because benefits pay them more than what they’d earn after returning to work.
Another major question remains for many concerned workers; "What if I don't feel like my employers are providing a safe work environment? Do I have any options then?"
According to the CNBC article, the answer is still pretty much no. Workers could argue that conditions at work are no longer safe, but if it is found that your employers are following the mandatory safety guidelines, you will not be able to refuse to work and still receive unemployment benefits.