ODJFS provides online form to report employees who quit or refuse to return to work because of COVID-19
As Ohio begins to open businesses, many employers are developing plans to safely reopen and manage the return of their workforces. Among the various issues employers must consider is what to do when an employee quits or refuses to return to work because of concerns related to COVID-19 and then applies for unemployment compensation benefits.
Generally, when employees quit or refuse an offer of work without just cause, they may become ineligible for unemployment benefits. Further, if the offer of work is refused in order to continue receiving unemployment benefits, an individual may even be found to have committed fraud on the state unemployment insurance system.
To address these potentially fraudulent situations, the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services (ODJFS) created an online form for employers to report employees who quit or refuse to return to work specifically because of COVID-19. Employers can visit the ODJFS website to fill out a report.
If an employee threatens to quit or refuses an offer of work due to safety concerns, or because of an alleged disability, it could be considered “just cause” under unemployment compensation laws. Accordingly, employers should ensure that they are following the most recent CDC and OSHA guidance regarding workplace safety and engage in the interactive process with an employee to determine whether a reasonable accommodation can be made before requiring the employee to return to work.