Biden wants to end the confusion when unemployed workers can refuse jobs

President Joe Biden signs an executive order on January 21, 2021 during an event in the State Dining Room of the White House.

Alex Wong Getty Image News | Getty Images

President Joe Biden on Friday ordered federal labor officials to clarify that unemployed workers could refuse job offers and continue to collect unemployed benefits.

A work refusal usually takes away from unemployed benefits for recipients. But the law allows them to deny inappropriate work – for example, in unsafe work conditions – and continue to receive help.

In the era of the epidemic, there is confusion as to how such rules apply and when Americans can reasonably refuse a job offer. For example, wearing masks in stores may apply to safety concerns such as social disturbances and disinfected surfaces.

By an executive order signed on Friday, Biden asked the US Department of Labor to “consider clarifying that workers who refuse unsafe working conditions can still get unemployment insurance.”

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Doing so will not help unemployed Americans to choose between paying bills from Kovid-19 as ordered, and keeping their family safe.

According to activist advocates, this directive would be most effective for border workers and communities of color. They have faced a reduction in the number of layoffs since March and are at greater risk of contracting the Kovid-19.

“I think this is actually a federal standard for this program, and that states cannot run more than the safety-risk element of unemployment insurance,” said George Wentworth, senior attorney for the National Employment Law Project and Connecticut Labor Department, a former officer.

According to Labor Department data, about 16 million Americans were collecting unemployment benefits in early January. This number is likely to increase in the coming weeks.

Various state standards

When a job is offered, states set different rules for what the appropriate job is. Labor officials in the Trump administration deferred state law instead of setting a national standard.

“We don’t want workers to return to unsafe places,” said Eugene Scalia, the head of the US Department of Labor during a Senate unemployment hearing in June.

However, safety standards are usually covered by state law, Scalia said.

Republican lawmakers were particularly concerned about a high prevalence of denying job offers in the spring and summer when unemployed workers received a weekly supplement of $ 600 for benefits. Subsequent research did not show evidence of a dynamic occurring in the broader economy.

Wentworth said some state governors may have confused workers about their rights by making black and white statements during the epidemic.

“If you are an employer and you offer to bring your employee back to work and they do not decide, then it is a voluntary holiday,” Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said in April. “Therefore, they will not be eligible for unemployment money.”

Scalia was criticized by Democrats for not providing federal safety standards during the epidemic, and generally praised Biden’s executive order.

“Saving workers from choosing between unemployment benefits and unsafe working conditions is a long-lasting step,” said Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va., Who served as chairman of the Congressional Joint Economic Committee Are expecting

In an order issued on Thursday around health and labor safety, the US Department of Labor has been directed to issue revised guidance to employers within two weeks.


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