A decision to make: Stay on unemployment benefits or return to work?

National News

BATON ROUGE, La. (KLFY) — Unemployment is an ongoing issue across the United States due to COVID-19. This past week, Louisiana was ranked third for the biggest increase in unemployment claims in the country. As the state reopens, people who are receiving unemployment benefits will have to make a decision.

Robert Wooley, assistant secretary of Louisiana Workforce Commission, says “Some people may say, ‘I am looking at this long term and I would like to have my job back. I would like to get back to work. I got opportunities in front of me,’ but some people may not make that decision.”

The Louisiana Workforce Commission’s statute says unemployment benefits will terminate after the unemployed returns to work or refuses suitable work after the stay at home order is lifted. But due to COVID-19, some people will still be eligible for benefits.

“I don’t think it’s cut and dry, you are going to lose your benefits. You might lose your state benefits and get transferred to federal benefits. There are a whole lot of different scenarios that are involved here,” Wooley continues.

He says if businesses do not construct a COVID-19-safe environment, making it unsafe for employees, then those employees can refuse work and still receive state unemployment benefits. Wooley adds, “And if you refuse suitable work that just un-qualifies you for state unemployment benefits.”

Unemployed workers, who are eligible for unemployment benefits provided by programs underneath the CARES Act, will continue to receive them. Eligibility includes a variety of coronavirus-related measures, self-employment, and other basic requirements.

Wooley concludes, “At some point, all the unemployment benefits will terminate. The PUA has a time limit on it. The FPUC has a time limit. The $600 payment has a time limit on it. I think that will also be something people will look at as they make their decision whether I’m going to sit here and collect unemployment or I’m going to go back to work.”

He says most people are unaware the LWC specializes in re-employment. Their primary goal is to help people get back into work and they will provide information and resources to do so.

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