Can you refuse to work when Georgia reopens and still collect unemployment?

How will businesses reopening affect your unemployment claim?

There are a lot of questions as Georgia prepares to reopen for business under strict social distancing guidelines to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Viewers have sent in dozens of questions today to Channel 2 Action News, so Channel 2′s Richard Elliot took those questions to Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler.

Butler’s office has handled one million claims in just one month, more than they handled in the worst year of the Great Recession. He applauded his staff who are now working seven days a week to process all of those claims.

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Q: Can I refuse to go back to work because I still think there’s a health risk and stay on unemployment?

Butler says the short answer is yes. In a lot of cases, quitting can be covered under unemployment but you are going to have to show proof of the issue that you are having.

Q: What happens if you filed for unemployment but haven’t received a check and your employer is reopening?

Butler told Elliot that workers don’t need to worry, they’ll still get that check. “Whatever you qualified for, you still get. It doesn’t matter even in normal times,” Butler added.

Q: What if you are at home caring for someone who is defined as “medically fragile” and you can’t go back to work?

Butler says you can still file for unemployment if you need to care for a loved one.

Q: Can my workers still get unemployment if I bring them back with reduced hours?

He said under this emergency declaration you can even earn up to $300 a week and still qualify for unemployment. He says that will allow employers to keep people on the payroll so they can qualify for the federal Payroll Protection Program. “If you are bringing back employees and you are still on much reduced hours, you can actually still claim them as partially employed under the partial claims process that you’re doing," Butler said.

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