With more reports surfacing of employees refusing to return to work due to the benefits of unemployment, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said on Tuesday that people who persist in staying home despite an offer to work will not be eligible for federal unemployment benefits.
“If you offer a person a job…and that person does not take the job…then that person would not be allowed to get unemployment,” Mnuchin said Tuesday, as reported by Fox News.
The treasury secretary said that companies receiving benefits from the Payroll Protection Program should notify unemployment offices if the employee refuses to work. Fox News provided more details on the program and how employees have been earning more on unemployment than actually working:
Under the “Phase 3” economic stimulus package passed in March, also known as the CARES Act, Congress provided $250 billion to extend unemployment insurance to more workers, and lengthen the duration to 39 weeks, up from the normal 26 weeks. The provision allowed for an extra $600 to be provided a week for four months to those losing their jobs amid the crisis.
The Wall Street Journal reported last month that about half of U.S. workers can earn more with these jobless benefits than they did while working — a factor that could hurt efforts by some businesses to reopen.
The stimulus package also provided an additional 13 weeks of unemployment compensation to individuals who have exhausted their regular unemployment benefits, as well as a supplemental payment of $600 per week for up to four months.
As reported by The Daily Wire’s Tim Pearce, nearly two-thirds of those out-of-work are actually getting paid more on unemployment, which has incentivized some to avoid returning to work.
“Economists Peter Ganong, Pascal Noel and Joseph Vavra at the University of Chicago estimate that most workers recently added to unemployment rolls are receiving more money in weekly checks from the government than they were making at their jobs, according to their report,” Pearce wrote. “The disparity may lead to widespread economic consequences as employers attempt to restart small businesses that have been shut down for a month or more.”
As states reopen, Jeffrey Hirsch, professor at the University of North Carolina’s school of law, said that workers are being forced into tough position.
“The vast majority of workers are going to have to face a really tough choice,” Hirsch told Newsweek.”For most workers dealing with this issue, such as blue workers who are being ordered to return to work, who have a fear of safety, they probably aren’t protected. The employer probably can order them to do that and a state could lawfully say, ‘if you refuse, you are not going to get unemployment benefits’.
“Even if they have a decent legal claim, they probably don’t have the resources or the time to challenge it. They are stuck,” he continued. “They really are having to have to make a choice between whatever risk they feel going to work, versus losing their job, in an awful job market.”
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