Many employers have laid off employees because of the coronavirus pandemic, but are now calling them back to work. Some companies have received a Paycheck Protection Program loan which, as a condition of loan forgiveness, requires the employer to call back to work those employees who were laid off. We have been receiving reports from employers that some employees are refusing to return to work, primarily for two reasons: (1) the employee is receiving more in compensation from unemployment benefits than the employee had been receiving from the company in pay; and (2) the employee has anxiety about returning to work because of the pandemic.
The rules of the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) provide that an employee who quits voluntarily or declines to return to work without good cause is not eligible for unemployment benefits. Neither of the above 2 reasons is considered to be good cause for an employee to refuse an employer’s offer to return to work.
The VEC has established a link on its website for employers to report work refusals and new or rehires: https://www.vec.virginia.gov/html/employer-issue-report.html. The link allows reporting in the following categories:
- I recently attempted to recall an employee from a layoff/furlough and that person has refused this offer of work.
- I have received funds from the Small Business Administration under the Payroll Protection Plan (PPP) and I am paying my employee his or her wages or I am paying wages from another source.
- I recently hired or rehired an individual and would like to report this action to the VEC.
Employers should promptly report the information to the VEC.
Feel free to contact us if you have questions about this matter.