Approximately 30 million people have reportedly filed for unemployment in the last six weeks due to COVID 19. This figure may not reflect the actual numbers of Americans out of work, because some have not yet applied for unemployment.
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has provided states with federal unemployment compensation, known as the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), for eligible workers who are receiving other unemployment benefits. The program provides an additional weekly benefit of $600.00 to eligible workers. This provision is contained in Section 2104 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) enacted on March 27, 2020.
With the increased benefit from the FPUC, some workers have had the inkling to forgo working and keep collecting the state unemployment benefit, plus the additional $600.00 federal weekly benefit. The employee may be earning more each week from unemployment than his/her job.
As you can imagine, continuing to collect unemployment when suitable work is available is a problem for the employee; it is a crime to commit unemployment fraud. Most states have strict guidelines and laws prohibiting workers from refusing to work while collecting unemployment benefits. As an employer, you must report the worker who is refusing to come back to work. There are state guidelines on how to report when the employee is refusing to accept a suitable position. The laws and regulations for receiving unemployment benefits are listed on state unemployment sites and contain the latest guidelines. Most states’ websites also include links for reporting employees who are refusing to come back to work.
Once the employer has reported the refusal of suitable work by the employee, the state agency administering the unemployment benefits, will decide whether the recipient will continue to receive benefits or will lose their eligibility.
Below is information on Utah, Colorado, and Arizona’s reporting requirements for employers to follow when reporting employees who are refusing suitable work.
In Utah, you can report a refusal to come to work on the Utah Government website. The form is a Request for Investigation of UI Fraud. It requires information about the worker’s refusal to return to work including, the date the offer of employment was made, the date the employee would have returned to work, and a description of how the offer was communicated to the employee.
The return to work fact sheet is a helpful tool that explains what is required when the employee returns to work, explains the $600.00 Federal Pandemic stimulus payment, required communications to employees, how to report employees refusing to work, and other communications regarding the stimulus package.
Colorado employers can report a refusal to come to work on the Employer Questionnaire: Report Refusal of Suitable Work. The Colorado form requires the employer to complete similar information as the Utah Request for Investigation of UI Fraud above.
Colorado Department of Labor and Employment has a webpage that contains information for, Returning to Work: Employer Guidance, for assistance on workers that have been laid off or had hours reduced due to COVID-19. The site contains helpful advice for recalling workers to suitable work, layoff assistance and workforce reductions, layoff alternatives, employee retention tax credits, hiring, and small business loan assistance.
Arizona employers can locate information for reporting a refusal to come to work through the Department of Economic Security web page or calling 1-800-251-2436 or locally at 602-542-9449.
Please contact one of our staff at Employers Council if you have any questions regarding COVID 19 compliance or any other questions that will help you in these ever-changing times. Our COVID-19 site is updated regularly with many articles and resources.