A day after reporting that Texas employees rejecting a return to suitable work for fear of contracting COVID-19 could lose unemployment benefits, Govenor Abbott announced that the TWC has promulgated rules allowing employees to continue receipt of benefits even if rejecting a return to suitable work. According to the Governor’s press release:
Each unemployment insurance claim is currently evaluated on an individual basis. However, because of the COVID-19 emergency, the following are reasons benefits would be granted if the individual refused suitable work.
Reason for refusal:
- At High Risk: People 65 years or older are at a higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19.
- Household member at high risk: People 65 years or older are at a higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19.
- Diagnosed with COVID: The individual has tested positive for COVID-19 by a source authorized by the State of Texas and is not recovered.
- Family member with COVID: Anybody in the household has tested positive for COVID-19 by a source authorized by the State of Texas and is not recovered and 14 days have not yet passed.
- Quarantined: Individual is currently in 14-day quarantine due to close contact exposure to COVID-19.
- Child care: Child’s school or daycare closed and no alternatives are available.
Any other situation will be subject to a case by case review by TWC based on individual circumstances.
This rule change allows high risk or COVID-19 infected employees and employees without childcare due to COVID-19 to maintain unemployment benefits despite being offered and rejecting a return to work