With some businesses planning to start up again this weekend, workers who have been unemployed are wondering whether they have to return to work if they feel unsafe.
“We’re getting a lot of calls from people feeling uncomfortable. What do we do if our employer opens back up,” said Georgia Department of Labor spokeswoman Kersha Cartwright.
Gov. Brian Kemp announced Monday that some businesses, like barbershops, hair salons and bowling alleys, can open up on Friday. Restaurants can start in-person dining on Monday, if they adhere to safety and distancing rules.
The Georgia DOL said people who are afraid of getting COVID-19 are encouraged “to work with their employers on plans to return to work.”
If they decide to quit the job on their own, they can file an individual claim for unemployment benefits.
However, in that case, eligibility for payments will be determined based on “the facts presented in the case.”
Cartwright said while fear of COVID-19 may not be a specific reason to qualify for unemployment benefits, there are many other reasons one might qualify in the coronavirus environment.
“Many situations could qualify,” she said.
The Department also sent out guidance for people who currently earn more in unemployment than they would if they went back to work, due to the extra $600 weekly in federal aid. Officials point to a Georgia specific rule that allows people to work reduced hours and earn up to $300 a week without losing any of their current unemployment benefits.