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May 7, 2020

Unemployment Insurance – Information for Employers

The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed the way people live and work. Many employees have no choice other than to apply for unemployment benefits due to a lack of suitable and safe work being available, which makes unemployment insurance a great concern for employers as well. Here are some tips on how employers can prepare for employees registering for unemployment benefits and returning to work.

Unemployment Benefits

If the employees’ work requires them to be present in the workplace, the employer may lawfully terminate those who refuse to work. Employees who have been offered remote work but refuse or quit simply to receive unemployment benefits may be denied. Reasonable justification for employees depends on their own health situation and determination of this is a fact-specific inquiry.

If an employee has been laid off and refuses to return to work after the pandemic is over, they may still be able to receive unemployment benefits, depending on the reason. If it is due to them receiving a higher income while on benefits, they will not be eligible. If it is due to an underlying medical condition or other risk factor, they are likely to eligible.

As an employer, when you are ready to reopen your business, you should directly and clearly communicate the details on the work offered. The details should include the start date, full-time/part-time, wages, hours, location, and conditions of the job. If the employee refuses, the employee may be disqualified from assistance. Employers are able to report job refusals to UIFraud@MassMail.State.MA.US.

When Employees return to full employment, there is no need to contact the Department of Unemployment Assistance. Once the employee starts work and discontinues the weekly filing certification, the claim will be closed.

When employees return to part-time employment, they may still be eligible for partial unemployment depending on the number of hours worked and gross earnings during a week. The benefit payment would be adjusted based in the gross wages reported and will still be sent if the weekly certifications are filed.

For more info on how unemployment benefits affect employers, please visit the Unemployment Insurance Benefits & Returning to Work: Guide for Employers found here. If you are an employer who is looking for an attorney to assist with a matter related to unemployment benefits or for any reason, you can email us a request for a lawyer at lrs@bostonbar.org or be referred to a lawyer online instantly here.