Biden Administration Aims to Clarify Rule on Unemployment Insurance and Covid-19

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Biden Administration Aims to Clarify Rule on Unemployment Insurance and Covid-19

On January 22, the Biden administration released a fact sheet related to Covid-19 and economic recovery.  One of the bullet points on the fact sheet has direct implications for employment law.

Help ensure that unemployed Americans no longer have to choose between paying their bills and keeping themselves and their families safe from COVID-19 by asking the U.S. Department of Labor to consider clarifying that workers who refuse unsafe working conditions can still receive unemployment insurance.

Unemployment insurance is typically unavailable to workers who voluntarily leave their employment. The order clarifies that leaving for unsafe conditions with respect to Covid-19 protocols is allowed.

In California, there are five requirements to file a claim of unemployment.

  • You must be unemployed (totally or partially)
  • You must have become unemployed through no fault of your own
  • You are physically capable of working
  • You are currently available to work
  • You are ready to begin work immediately

The new federal guidelines would add a clarification to a couple of the bullet points.  In California, if you quit or are fired from your work, the Employment Development Department (EDD) will interview you about any unemployment claim.  Typically, if you quit your position, you will need to provide good cause for why you quit.  Fear of contracting Covid-19 due to unsafe working conditions should be considered a good cause by the interviewer.  If you were denied benefits before this guidance, you may be able to appeal the decision now and cite the new federal guidelines.

See the fact sheet here.

Unsafe working conditions can not only lead to physical injury but can cause psychological harm and stress.  Employment law states that any employee who makes a complaint about unsafe working conditions, including conditions related to protection from Covid-19, cannot legally be retaliated against.  Any worker who is punished or terminated from a position for reporting unsafe conditions can pursue a claim.  And of course, any work injury suffered as a result of these unsafe conditions is eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.  The Law Offices of Scott Warmuth helps workers pursue employment law and workers’ compensation claims.  Call our expert team today at 888-517-9888 for a free consultation.

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