Refusing to return to work can result in loss of benefits

With the economy beginning to reopen, some people who have been entitled to unemployment benefits throughout the pandemic are hesitant to return to work. Mississippi Department of Employment Security (MDES) officials Jackie Turner and Timothy Rush recently joined The Gallo Show to talk about “the new norm” of trying to evaluate whether individuals should still be entitled to such benefits.

“Now, as the economy is opening back up, employers are wanting their employees back,” Turner said. “Then, there’s these caveats for COVID-related reasons that the individual may refuse to come back or can’t come back, and it will complicate things.”

MDES is working with employers across the state to provide a system on how to approach an employee refusing to return to work.

“We are trying very hard to give employers the tools to communicate with the agency when people have gone back to work or refuse to go back to work or can’t be reached to return to work,” Rush said.

Once an employer reaches out to MDES, the department will launch an investigation into the situation. If they find the individual’s reasoning to be invalid, that person will lose all unemployment benefits.

“We will in return contact that individual and find out why he or she did not return to work, and if they do not have good cause for failing to return to work…they will be dismissed or disqualified, shall I say, up to twelve weeks, up to three months for refusing to return to suitable work,” Rush continued.

The novel coronavirus has brought along with it the highest surge in unemployment claims since The Great Depression, yet Turner believes workforce normalcy seems to be gradually returning.

“We do believe we have hit the top, and we are going down the hill on the other side,” Turner said. “Now, we’re still seeing over 20,000 [claims] a week, but we do think we are on the other side.”

Watch the full interview with Turner and Rush below.