Refusing Work - CA Reopen
Updated: Jul 2
Prior to the pandemic, refusing work was an automatic disqualification to receive any benefits. EDD has made exceptions and it is possible to continue receiving benefits DEPENDING ON THE REASON why you refused work. It has to be determined GOOD CAUSE to refuse work.
Know that if you refuse to work and EDD determines you ineligible, you may risk both being out of a job and unable to receive unemployment.
EDD FAQ's here
Would I qualify for benefits if I choose to stay home from work due to underlying health conditions and concerns about exposure to the virus?
You can be eligible for benefits if you choose to stay home. Once you file your claim, the EDD will contact you if we need more information.
I was LAID OFF, but my employer is reopening now. Will I lose my benefits if I refuse to return to work because I am in one of the categories of people that the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has identified as having elevated risk for contracting COVID-19?
The CDPH has issued public health guidance urging individuals who are over 65, immunocompromised, or have certain serious chronic health conditions (such as heart disease, lung disease or diabetes) to stay at home due to “higher risk” factors.
An individual is disqualified for UI if they refuse to accept “suitable” employment when offered. EDD will consider whether the particular work is “suitable” in light of factors such as the degree of risk involved to the individual’s health and safety, and as a result whether the individual has good cause for refusing the work. For example, even if your employer has complied with the state’s requirements for reopening, and any and all government safety regulations, you would have good cause to refuse to return to work if you are at greater personal risk due to higher risk factors as identified by the CDPH.
You may not have good cause for refusing suitable work if your employer was willing to allow you to telework and you still refused the suitable work. In this scenario, you could be disqualified from continuing to receive regular UI benefits because there was an alternative available to work without compromising your health and safety. Therefore, workers are encouraged to speak with their employers about work options that are consistent with public health guidance, the reopening requirements, and any local public health orders. Such options may include telework or modified schedules. Employers may have a legal obligation to accommodate certain health conditions. The Department of Fair Employment and Housing has issued guidance regarding what employers must do to accommodate employees with recognized disabilities.
I was LAID OFF. Jobs are being offered, but the salary is less than what I receive in unemployment benefits. Will I lose my benefits if I refuse these job offers?
You are generally required to search for work to be eligible for benefits
Individuals are required to accept what is considered "suitable work"
You may have good cause to refuse if the wages, hours, or working conditions are "substantially less favorable" than other similar work in the locality.
For example, if you're offered a job at $20/hour bu other jobs in your community doing the same type of work are paid $30/hour, you may have good cause to refuse the work
You would not have good cause for refusing the work solely because the wages you are offered for the work are less than the amount you have been receiving through UI
I was FURLOUGHED and now asked to return to work. Will I lose benefits if I refuse work since I do not feel safe going back?
An individual is disqualified for UI if they refuse to accept “suitable” employment when offered. Under California law, the EDD will consider whether the particular work is “suitable” in light of factors such as the degree of risk involved to the individual’s health and safety. For example, if your employer has complied with the state’s requirements for reopening, and any and all government safety regulations, you may not have good cause to refuse to return to work and could be disqualified from continuing to receive regular UI benefits for a designated period of time.
I heard that the statewide stay-at-home order has been modified and that some lower-risk workplaces reopened on May 8, 2020. Is everyone expected to go back to work?
Refer to the list of counties who have met the criteria set forth by the CDPH and the industries within those counties that can resume full or modified operations.
Workers are still subject to the stay-at-home order, and thus should not be required to return to work, if their employment does not belong to one of the essential or gradually reopening sectors, until further notice by the state or local jurisdictions.
In Stage 1 of the stay-at-home order, critical sectors considered essential to keep operating were exempted because of their importance to Californians’ security, health, and well-being. As of May 8, 2020, in addition to the continued operation of sectors providing essential services under Stage 1, the state is moving into Stage 2, where some lower-risk workplaces can gradually reopen with adaptations. Refer to the state Resilience Roadmap for details.
Industry guidance has been issued by the CDPH, in conjunction with Cal/OSHA, to help these workplaces operate and reopen safely. The goal is a safer environment for workers and customers. Businesses may use effective alternative or innovative methods to build upon the guidance, but before re-opening, all facilities must first perform a detailed risk assessment and implement a site-specific protection plan.
Stage 2 expansion will be phased in gradually. Some communities may move through Stage 2 faster if they are able to show greater progress. Counties that have met the readiness criteria and worked with the CDPH can open more workplaces as outlined on the County variance webpage.
I was LAID OFF, been asked to return to work, but employer does not provide essential services. Will I lose benefits if I refuse to return to work if I'm afraid of contracting COVID-19 in the workplace?
No, this should not affect your continued receipt of UI benefits. An individual is disqualified for UI if they refuse to accept “suitable” employment when offered. EDD will consider whether the particular work is “suitable” in light of factors such as the degree of risk involved to the individual’s health and safety. You would have good cause to refuse to return to work if the business does not provide an essential service and is not in one of the industries reopening now under the state’s Resilience Roadmap for reopening. This is because the stay-at-home order is still in effect outside of essential or reopened industries.
I am currently receiving regular UI benefits. How do I indicate that I have refused to return to work after I received an offer of employment that I did not think was suitable?
When you certify for your continued UI benefits, you will be asked if you have refused any work. You will need to check “yes” to that question, which would trigger an eligibility interview by the EDD. During that interview, you will have the opportunity to inform the EDD of the facts surrounding the offer of employment that you turned down.
I was FURLOUGHED, and they're asking me to come back. If I choose to quit, do I have to pay back the unemployment I've received so far?
No, each week is independent of each other. So if you did not work and are deemed eligible, then you get the benefits for that week. For the week that you decide to quit you will become disqualified from unemployment. Unemployment considers you eligible if you are unemployed by no fault of your own.