As employers continue to muddle through the “new normal” in the workplace amidst the pandemic, getting people back to work has been a struggle. Regardless the reason for the push-back, employers have had to sift through when it makes sense to allow employees to continue working from home and when they need to be on-site. Regardless of your agency decision, you will need to understand your rights as the employer when it comes to an employee’s refusal to work.
Know Your Rights:
For the purpose of this article, we will refer directly to the Employment Security Department for Washington State. For the other states, consult governor’s orders, unemployment websites, and your state’s job and family services websites and references. First, you need to decide if there is a problem with allowing the employee to continue to work from home. If you have a good employee who has not changed productivity or accountability while working from home, then it may make sense to keep them home. You may decide it makes no sense to bring those employees in and pose any additional risk to them. We realize this may not be the case for many employees. My mother used to always say, “Even good people can do bad things” when it comes to the workplace. Let’s face it, some people do not have the discipline to be productive from home and need the structure. It is what it is and it is fine for the employer to make this a clear reason behind the need for on-site work. If the employer is maintaining safety guidelines as outlined by the CDC, the state Department of Health, and your state’s Department of Labor, then the employee cannot receive unemployment benefits with a refusal to work.
Legitimate Reasons To Turn Down A Return To Work:
Make sure you, as the employer have done what is necessary to have the employer return to work. If not, then you will be required to continue unemployment benefits. Let’s look as some of the items necessary to promote a safe work return for employees.
- Being at higher risk for severe COVID-19 related illness as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Living in a household with a person at high risk.
- Providing direct care for a high-risk person.
- Being asked to work at a worksite that does not follow guidelines published by the U.S. Department of Labor, the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, or the Washington Department of Health.
- You have to care for a child in your household who is unable to attend school or daycare because it has been closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
(Information cirted directly from the Employment Security Department for Washington State)
Unjustified Reasons To Turn Down A Return To Work On-Site:
The Employment Security Departments are very clear on reasons not considered legitimate for the employee to refuse on-site work.
- The employee makes more on unemployment then what he or she would make back on the job
- The employees doesn’t want to go back to work
- The employee is nervous about the return to work but there is no other reason why he/she cannot return. (This one is tough because you will have employees who suffer from a true fear of what a return to work looks like. We as citizens have had an overload of fearful media presences and differeing reports of what is going on in our country. Many people quite simply do not know what to believe and are petrified to go out. Following guidelines will help alleviate anxiety for employees with a legitimate fear.) There must be an accepted reason from the state for the employee not to return.
Navigating Changes In Our Homecare World:
In the ever-changing world of homecare, home health, and hospice, Kenyon Homecare Consulting is here to help. We understand the struggles in clinical, operations, coding, and finance that you deal with everyday. We have senior associates with expertise on all different focuses of your operations. Whether you need an in-depth financial assessment or help transitioning clinical personnel to coordinated care planning in a PDGM world, we can help. Call us today at 206-721-5091 or contact us online for your free 30 minute consultation with a senior consultant.