ResourcesCovid-19

September 14, 2020 by Arlo Hennessey

What if I am offered a job, but I cannot start the job due to concerns about exposure to COVID-19 or because I need to care for a child or other family member?

In general, you are no longer eligible for unemployment if you refuse a “suitable” job offer. However, you can still be eligible for unemployment if you show that the job was not “suitable” or if you show that you had “good cause” for refusing a “suitable” job. The Department of Labor has said that it will look at a number of factors in making the suitability determination, including your prior earnings, the risk to your health and safety, your physical fitness to do the job, length of unemployment (under or over 10 weeks) and prospects for finding similar work to the job you held before, and the distance of available work from your residence. As described above, the factors the Department of Labor has said it will consider to determine whether you had “good cause” to refuse a job offer include having COVID-19, being advised by a doctor or public health official to quarantine because of possible exposure to COVID-19, or documenting that your employer has failed to take steps to minimize COVID-19 exposure. As a result, if the job presents a risk to your health and safety due to COVID-19, you may be able to show either that it was not “suitable” or that you had “good cause” to refuse the offer. Again, although the Department of Labor has not said whether it would take caregiving responsibilities into account in the “good cause” analysis, you may be able to argue that you have “good cause” because you are the primary caregiver of a child or family member.