While stated in many different ways, there are four primary pandemic-related reasons for refusing to return to work. They are:
- The employee refuses to return due to unsafe work conditions at their place of employment.
- The employee generally fears returning due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
- The employee refuses because they believe that the job is not “suitable employment.”
- The employee is receiving benefits due to the CARES Act, which allows them to temporarily receive more than what they may have made while at work.
There are a number of articles and informational pieces that help you navigate the aforementioned scenarios when dealing with an employee who is hesitant about returning to work during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the benefits they may or may not be eligible for. One source that covers most all of the questions you may encounter is this link from the Iowa Workforce Development.
Also, IWD has provided further directives in those instances in which an employer has offered work to employees, but the employee refuses to return to work. In these instances, the employer should notify IWD via this link.
If you are still uncertain about how to navigate the regulatory waters created by COVID-19, one of MBI’s legal partners – BrownWinick – has created a “Return to Work Playbook” which covers a multitude of employment-related issues.