Another question for the governor today:
Will Arkansas force people to go back to work at reopening businesses, even those with safety concerns, or else lose unemployment benefits?
Some states are already warning workers called back to work that they’ll lose state unemployment benefits (and the extra federal payment) if they don’t answer the call.
General concern about exposure to coronavirus is typically not a sufficient enough reason to stay home and continue collecting benefits, according to a recent guidance from the US Department of Labor.
However, some people could remain eligible for unemployment under a special pandemic program Congress created that allows those who were advised by a health provider to self-quarantine or who are caring for children whose schools have closed, for example, to qualify for benefits.
Still, states may interpret the guideline somewhat differently, experts said.
Georgia, whose governor is not exactly a leader in public safety, has allowed workers to make up to $300 a week and not lose benefits as an encouragement to work.
In theory, businesses are supposed to operate in ways that are safe for both employees and customers. Some states are taking note that there might be special circumstances.
Other states, however, are stressing that some workers may not have to return to their jobs right away.
Colorado, for instance, this week started allowing some businesses to reopen. But “vulnerable individuals,” including senior citizens or those with certain health conditions, cannot be compelled to return if they have to work near others, the state Department of Labor and Employment said.
Also, the agency specifies that the vulnerable may continue to be eligible for benefits if returning to work is a risk to their health or the health of someone they live with.