WASHINGTON – For many of America’s workers, choosing between unsafe employment and refusing work to avoid the risk of coronavirus infection has serious consequences. Too often, those who do not return to work or accept a job offer over concerns about workplace exposure lose their state unemployment benefits.
In response to a directive from President Biden, the U.S. Department of Labor is issuing guidance to state unemployment insurance agencies that expands the number of instances in which workers may be eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.
“Our nation cannot afford to continue compounding the already-devastating effects of the ongoing pandemic-related economic crisis by leaving workers destitute and living in fear for their health and their lives,” said Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Labor Patricia Smith. “Today’s guidance opens the door to relief for workers who have faced difficult, if not impossible, choices between accepting employment in an unsafe workplace to receive a steady source of income, and protecting their health and that of their loved ones.”