SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Malls, offices and restaurants are reopening in some areas, but who is coming back to work?
Unemployment benefits are on the line and many workers don’t want to lose them. Some business owners are now back in action but are worried about employees returning.
“Some of them might not be ready to come back to work. That’s another concern. Do we do a lot of the stuff ourselves at first to see how it goes?” said Al Griffin, the owner of Placerville Public House.
Griffin is one of many business owners who will face this — workers reluctant to return for safety reasons, a lack of childcare, or even because they make more on unemployment right now than they do at work.
Governor Newsom dismissed those issues as temporary.
“I think there’s a deep desire for people to come back to work. Not everybody’s going to come back right away,” he said.
Normally, if you are offered a job and refuse it while on unemployment, you lose your benefits. But COVID-19 creates exceptions.
Sacramento employment attorney George Allen said you have to consider this: “Is my job actually dangerous or am I just sort generally concerned about the virus?” he said.
The California Employment Development Department will question you. They factor in the degree of risk at your job, if your employer is in compliance with the required reopening safety precautions, and whether your employer is even allowed to reopen right now.
You would also need to talk with your boss about the decision.
“Did you make a good faith effort? Did you contact your employer to address any questions or concerns about safety in your workplace?” Allen said.
So, can you refuse to go back to work if you can’t find childcare? The short answer is yes. The state unemployment office works that out on a case-by-case basis.
A good rule of thumb to go by is if the state or your county deems your workplace unsafe right now, “then certainly the worker should be able to rely on that and say sorry not safe, not coming to work,” Allen said.
The US Department of Labor also passed an act requiring certain employers to give paid family leave if an employee is unable to work because their child care provider is closed due to COVID-19.