Refusal to Return to Work: COVID-19

The Department of Labor reminds unemployment claimants who have been placed on temporary layoff or furlough related to COVID-19 that they must return to work if called back by their employer. Refusal to return to work, when being offered the number of hours per week, may result in the termination of unemployment benefits and the need to repay certain benefits.

Action for Employers

If you are an employer that has offered regular work, at the same rate of pay that they were working prior to COVID-19, to an employee that was temporarily laid-off or furloughed, and the employee has refused to return to work, you MUST report this activity to the Department of Labor.

Employers can submit a report of refusal to work by completing the online form, found here at https://labor.vermont.gov/form/refusal-work-fraud-report, or by clicking the button below.

SUBMIT A work refusal REPORT


Who Does This Include?

  • Previously Laid-off or Furloughed Employees
    • Employer ceased operations for a COVID-19 related reason
    • As a direct result of an order issued by the Governor or President
    • For the employees own COVID-19 related isolation/quarantine
  • Employer accepted in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
    • Refusing to accept continued employment provided by PPP will be construed as a refusal of suitable work

Exemptions to the Return to Work Request

  • ​If an individual left employment due to one of the following reasons, they may still be eligible for benefits:
    • Being sick or isolated as the result of COVID-19
    • An unreasonable risk of exposure at place of employment
    • Caring for a family member who is sick or isolated as the result of COVID-19
    • Caring for a child who is unable to attend school or a childcare facility

If claimants called back to full-time work, he/she should not cancel their unemployment claims but instead leave their claim open and simply not file a weekly claim for the weeks in which they worked.

If a claimant is called back, but was only offered reduced hours, but at a normal rate of pay,  they must accept the offer and report all earnings for the week. Individuals who accept partial employment may be eligible for partial benefits in this case.

*Cases in which claimants intentionally mistate or omit facts are considered fraudulent and may result in prosecution.  Claimants will be required to pay back benefits deemed to have been overpaid due to material misstatements or omissions pertaining to their claim.*

Contact Information

COVID-19 Update: Department of Labor offices are currently closed due to COVID-19. Please contact the Department by phone.

Vermont Department of Labor
5 Green Mountain Drive
P.O. Box 488
Montpelier, 05601-0488
(802) 828-4000

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