Will You Lose Your Unemployment Insurance Benefits If You Refuse To Return To Work?

To contain the pandemic, the states had asked their citizens to stay at home. This measure forced many businesses to shut down temporarily and furlough their employees. To help the unemployed meet their financial requirements, the states had announced the CARES Act, which included various unemployment insurance benefits programs.

As states plan to reopen the economy, businesses are beginning to reopen their doors. But with the Coronavirus continuing to spread, not everyone is ready to resume the employment. According to the survey report by the Washington Post and the University of Maryland, about 67% of people are not comfortable going back to work. 

So what happens if you are not willing to go back to work? Will you lose your unemployment insurance benefits? 

Will You Lose Your Unemployment Insurance Benefits If You Don’t Go Back To Your Job?

You may lose your unemployment insurance benefits if you turn down your employer’s request to rejoin the work. However, under certain circumstances, you can refuse to return the work while continuing to claim the benefits. This includes:

  • You are at risk of contracting the Coronavirus
  • Your family member is tested positive for the Coronavirus
  • You have been diagnosed with the Coronavirus by the test authorized by your state and have not yet recovered
  • Your child’s daycare or school and there is no alternatives
  • You are in 14-day quarantine due to exposure to the Coronavirus

Some other exceptions include:

1. Your Employer Has Made Changes Your Work Without Your Agreement

You can refuse to go back to work and continue to receive your UI benefits if your employer has made drastic changes to your job without your notice. This can include moving you to a facility that requires a longer duration to commute, changes to your assignment working hours or shift, or drastic pay cut. However, you cannot turn down the work due to small changes like adding an extra hour to your regular shift.

2. Your Employer Is Not Providing Safe Workplace

As businesses reopen, they must follow guidelines that are issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to protect their employees. 

Employers have the responsibility of providing well-maintained hand-washing stations, personal protective equipment such as masks or gloves, and additional sanitation. They should also ensure that social distancing is maintained in the workplace. 

If businesses fail to follow the guidelines mentioned above, then you can quit or turn down the job with good cause and claim your unemployment benefits. 

However, you may be disqualified from receiving UI benefits if there is a way to take the job without compromising your health and safety, but you have refused to work. 

You will not receive the benefits if your employer has allowed you to telework, but you have turned down the job. 

What Happens If You Return To Work?

When you resume the work, you will stop receiving the unemployment benefits. If you have returned to your work or have taken a new job in the middle of a week, you should report your working hours and earnings as you may qualify to receive a partial benefit payment.

What If You Lose Your Job Again?

In case you lose your employment again, then you can apply for unemployment benefits. To apply for benefits, you must provide information about your recent gross earnings, contact information, direct deposit, and tax withholding details. 

Final Words

The authorities at your state’s unemployment benefits office will evaluate your situation to determine if you have turned down your work with good cause or not. If they find out that you have refused to return to your job with good cause, they will approve your unemployment benefits.


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