Will I Lose My Extra Unemployment if my Employer Wants Me Back At Work And I Am Worried About COVID Coronavirus Safety

Several employers and business’ are reopening as states relax lock-down laws and/or as the government starts making more progress on getting small business PPP loans disbursed. As a result more and more workers are being asked to return to work and are about it start getting paid by their employer. But many of these workers are also now getting unemployment insurance along with the extra $600 per week payment, which in total could be more than what they make if they return to work! Furthermore safety concerns around getting Coronavirus are giving pause to many older workers and those with direct or indirect family health issues.

Unemployment insurance benefit rules across almost all states are pretty clear that if an employee returns to work full time, they would not be eligible for UI benefits and should stop requesting payment once they begin working. However there is an exception if an employee returns to part time work, where they may be eligible to receive unemployment benefits because of reduced hours and pay. The amount of wages they receive based on what their employer is paying under their new reopening conditions (subject to constraints with their PPP loan), would determine if they are eligible or not eligible to receive unemployment benefits.

As a reminder, the additional $600 weekly will occur automatically (unless specified by state unemployment site) for anybody eligible for any amount of state unemployment benefits — even as little as $1. The payments, including retroactive or backdated payments for eligible weeks, will continue through July 31.

If an employee doesn’t feel safe going back to work, they may be able to still be eligible for unemployment insurance compensation under new COVID-19 emergency provisions. The local state unemployment agency will evaluate cases on an individual basis (which could delay payments), against the following eligible employee refusal reasons under COVID-19 protection provisions:

  • The employee or one of their household members is in a “At High Risk” category, which refers to people 65 years or older are at a higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19 (Source DSHS website).
  • The worker or a household member was/is diagnosed with COVID – the individual has tested positive for COVID-19 by as confirmed via an officially recognized and is not recovered or still in the quarantine period (14 days).
  • Child care – Child’s school or daycare closed and no alternatives are available.

Also note that business’ who follow government mandated safety measures will likely be recognized as providing “suitable” work conditions for their employees. So employers are within their rights to call workers back to their former jobs under the same conditions of their pre-Coronavirus setup. In this scenario it will be hard for most workers to refuse going back to work, unless they meet PUA criteria above, which could mean losing all existing and any kind of unemployment benefits.

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18 thoughts on “Will I Lose My Extra Unemployment if my Employer Wants Me Back At Work And I Am Worried About COVID Coronavirus Safety

  1. My employer wants me back to work but can’t guarantee my hours. Right now it’s only limited to outside seating and I may only get 10 hours a week and if it rains nothing. If I put any amount in my weekly certification for unemployment it will cancel my benefits. This happened to a friend who made $80.00 dollars in a week and listed that. Her Unemployment benefits stopped. So what can I do?

  2. Does anyone know the answer to this question? I received unemployment benefits (a whole $12) but it was all taken for federal withholding and benefit reductions, so I did not actually receive a payment. Would I still qualify for the $600 federal compensation? I can’t seem to find an answer to this question anywhere, so any insight would be greatly appreciated…
    Thank you.

    1. As long as you qualify to receive even 1$ in unemployment benefits you are still eligible to receive the additional 600$ from the cares act. The part that’s tricky is they count your gross wages before taxes so if your weekly benefit amount is 159$ and you made 160$ but only get 80$ after taxes well you then get zero from unemployment. You must make less than your actual weekly benefit amount not more than the weekly amount plus the 600$ the additional 600$ does not count when it come to calculating your wages for weekly benefit amount. That’s where people usually mess up.

    2. Yes if you are eligible to receive even 1$ in unemployment benefits you are still eligible for the additional 600$ provided by the cares act.

  3. My Unemployment is more than my employer is paying me to come back to work. She received the PP loan, can I still get partial unemployment ? Meaning can I go back and receive the small (156$) difference in unemployment ?

    1. You can still receive unemployment if your hours have been reduced as long as you are eligible for even 1$ in unemployment benefits you are eligible for the additional 600$ from the cares act. You must make less than whatever your weekly benefit amount is before taxes. Benefits are calculated by your gross wages so if your gross wage was 200$ and your weekly benefit amount is 189$ you no longer qualify for unemployment.

  4. My job have open up to start to work I work at a retail store and I am very afraid to go back to work I am 61 almost 62 year old but I am afraid my job let me go so what do I do I needs some answer.

    1. If you have health issues making you high risk it is possible you may be able to collect unemployment benefits it’s being reviewed on a case by case basis and if you don’t feel safe you should not be forced back to work. Are you eligible for retirement pay? You can apply with the social security administration to start collecting early retirement at age 62 and 6 months in the meantime you can apply for PUA program do not apply for regular unemployment chances are you will be denied PUA has expanded eligibility for many issues Yours included and you should be eligible to receive payment until you can get processed for early retirement benefits.

  5. employer DEMANDS I return prior to reopening. hours are reduced but gross wages would exceed benefit by 21.00/wk for a 4 day week or 81.00 for a five day week. do I lose the 600/wk fed payment?
    also, I am high risk due to age and underlying conditions and live w/ spouse having same med& age situation. Now what????
    Thanks!

  6. I understand how the PEUC guidelines. However, what would happen to my retro benefits if my Employer calls me back to work and I am no longer eligible for future PEUC and FPUC? Am I still entitled to my back pay from March 23rd?

  7. when getting called back to work but you make less weekly than your cares unemployment will you still get it, example you get $200 unemployment but go back to work making $150. do you still qualify for the difference, plus still get the $600. under the cares act,

    1. Yes if you are eligible for even 1$ in unemployment benefits you are eligible for the additional 600$ for the cares act.

  8. Im back to work, did not qualify for reg unemployment but did for Fed 600 for about 4 weeks which I have not received any payment. Will I still get the 600 if the State considers me back to work full time?

  9. I’ve been tipping extra when I drive to do a pick up or get delivery!! They laugh when I say add hazardous pay!!! I donated my stimulus to a food bank because I suffered no losses!!That money should have went to folks laid off and shut down businesses!! My financial advisor told me take next stimulus and support a business!!

  10. My work may be opening up in a week or two. It’s a very busy very big restaurant in downtown San Francisco with tourists and a huge flow of people. It’s a very big chain. I am nervous to go back to work. I want to wait another month or two. I am receiving benefits now. My work told employees if they do not feel safe they can wait until they are ready… But im not sure what that would mean for my UI benefits. Anyone know?

    1. I am in the same situation as you are Mike. We have reopened and I am terrified to go back just yet. I want to wait, watch the numbers, new medical studies and how excatly my very busy restaurant is complying with CDC guidelines. I understand the importance of keeping the guests safe, and would ALWAYS do so, but what about MY safety??? It is impossible for me to stay 6ft away from anyone at my job. Guests and co-workers alike. I am not willing to put money above my life. No one should be forced to choose!!! I have been disqualified from the PPP pay because I am not ready to go back yet. I completely understand this decision by my employer (never expected money from them for not returning), but firmly believe we should be able to collect Ui and FPUC during this time of uncertainty. Please keep me posted if you hear any info, legislation, news etc regarding this.

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