According to the Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development, if an employee is called back to work when their company reopens and they do not return, they will be ineligible to receive benefits from the state.
Department Commissioner Jeff McCord spoke on the requirement during an April 28 press briefing sand said that being worried about returning to work does not qualify as an acceptable reason not to return to work.
“There are several reasons and several instances that qualify you for what we call PUA, or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. One of the things that is not is that there’s some sort of worry about going back to employment,” McCord said. “If you are offered a job and your employer opens back up, then, you stand the chance of losing those benefits if you don’t have a clear reason not to go back.”
According to the department's website, any benefits collected after an employee is called back to work would be considered an overpayment that must be repaid to the state.
However, there are some stipulations under which an employee could still collect benefits or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which lasts for a period of 39 weeks, according to the department.
Employees may still be eligible if:
- A doctor has told the employee to quarantine;
- The employee has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or is experiencing symptoms and seeking a diagnosis;
- A member of the employee's household has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
- The employee is a primary caregiver for a child whose school or day care has closed;
- The employee is now their household's primary earner after the previous head of household died due to COVID-19; or
- The employee is unable to reach their place of employment as a result of an imposed quarantine.
Read the department's full slate of answers to unemployment questions here.