Bracewell’s Bob Nichols spoke with Galveston County Daily News reporter Keri Heath about recent federal guidance allowing unemployment compensation for people who refuse jobs over COVID-19 fears.
The key will be whether workers have a good reason to either refuse a job or leave work, said Nichols. “Generalized fear of COVID is not going to be enough,” he said.
Nichols added that workers likely will have to show their employer isn’t adhering to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance or that they’re in a high-risk category. “If you are a relatively young, healthy waiter who has been out of work and you refuse work, then you are likely going to be disqualified from unemployment,” he explained.
Nichols also noted that Texas has so far taken a pretty generous stance toward workers who refuse employment because of COVID-19-related health concerns.
The Texas Workforce Commission is still awaiting direction from the US Department of Labor about how to handle President Joe Biden’s executive order asking the US Department of Labor to consider clarifying that workers could refuse employment if it jeopardized their health.
What employers should expect from the federal administration is tightening of COVID-19 safety policies, such as requiring distance and masking instead of one or the other, Nichols said.
“These aren’t going to be dramatic changes,” he added. “There’s going to be a ratcheting up of expectations.”
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