Ohio Unemployment and Employee’s Refusal to Return to Work While Receiving COVID-19 Benefits
In light of the COVID-19 crisis, the State of Ohio expanded employees’ opportunities to receive unemployment benefits. This, along with the additional unemployment benefits provided under recently passed federal legislation, makes unemployment a lucrative and appealing option for many employees. With the potential for businesses to reopen and/or expand services on the horizon, many employers are wondering what they should do if employees refuse to return to their positions.
Under normal circumstances, an individual would not be eligible for unemployment benefits if he/she quit without cause or refused an offer of employment. The Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services (“ODJFS”), the agency responsible for administering unemployment benefits in Ohio, is alerted to such situations when the employer files its response to a claim or when the claimant files his/her weekly reports. However, we are not in normal circumstances and the requirements to file the weekly reports relating to efforts to find employment have been relaxed.
Presently, if an employer attempts to recall a laid-off/furloughed employee and the employee refuses to return, there may be nothing the employee is filing with ODJFS to alert it to this fact. There is, however an avenue employers can use to put ODJFS on notice and dispute the employee’s eligibility going forward. Employers who believe an employee is refusing to return to work in order to continue to receive unemployment benefits can dispute the employee’s eligibility by completing the Unemployment Fraud and Ineligibility Form on the ODJFS website. ODJFS will use the provided information to determine whether the employee is ineligible and whether his/her actions constitute fraud.
This article provides an overview and summary of the matters described therein. It is not intended to be and should not be construed as legal advice on the particular subject.