Those choosing to not return to work may lose their unemployment benefits

Posted at 9:10 PM, May 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-11 22:10:58-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — As the state begins to reopen, many are returning to work. But for some, the health risk the Coronavirus poses is too great, and they don't want to return to work.

However, those choosing not to return to work due to Coronavirus concerns are running the risk of losing your unemployment benefits.

According to federal guidelines, which the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development follows, individuals must be willing and able to work to receive benefits.

Officials say not returning to work when there is available employment can be considered a “refusal of work” and could potentially disqualify someone from receiving their unemployment benefits.

There are benefits available to individuals who have traditionally been ineligible for state unemployment benefits through the federal CARES Act, but they don't apply to those apprehensive about returning to work because of health concerns.

Under federal law, workers who have been placed on a temporary layoff related to COVID-19 who can work, and do not qualify for any other Unemployment Insurance provisions through the state or under the CARES Act, must return to work if called back.

The requirements to receive Pandemic Unemployment Assistance through the federal CARES Act are listed below:

  • Are diagnosed with COVID-19 or have COVID-19 symptoms and are seeking diagnosis;
  • Have a member of the household who is diagnosed with COVID-19;
  • Are providing care for a family or household member diagnosed with COVID-19;
  • Are the primary caregiver for a child whose school or care facility closed, due to COVID-19;
  • Are unable to reach their place of employment due to an imposed quarantine, or because advised by a medical provider to self-quarantine, due to COVID-19;
  • Were scheduled to start new employment and cannot reach the workplace as a direct result of COVID-19;
  • Became the major breadwinner because the head of household died from COVID-19;
  • Quit their job as a direct result of COVID-19;
  • Had their place of employment closed as a direct result of COVID-19; or
  • Meet any additional criteria specified by U.S. Secretary of Labor

Visit the department's website for more information for employees and employers the Department’s website.