States warn workers they will lose their benefits if they refuse to return from furlough - with some making 120% MORE on unemployment than their regular paychecks

Officials in several states that are partially lifting coronavirus lockdown orders are issuing a stark warning to workers, saying that if they refuse to return to their jobs they could lose unemployment benefits.
Iowa, Oklahoma and Tennessee and other states have warned that if people turn down job offers because their unemployment benefits are higher than potential wages, they will see those benefits cut off. 
While willingness to work has always been a requirement for receiving unemployment benefits, the current situation is unprecedented, with many workers fearing to return to the workplace in the pandemic.
As well, a federal grant boosting unemployment benefits by $600 a week nationwide for those displaced by lockdowns means that those benefits now exceed average wages in at least 35 states.
Since the pandemic began, more than 30 million people across the country have filed for unemployment benefits -- and as states reopen, many of them will face the prospect of giving up a government check that is bigger than their paycheck if they take their old jobs back. 
In Oklahoma, personal care shops such as barbers have reopened by appointment only. Officials there and in many other states warned furloughed workers that refusing to take their old jobs back would disqualify them from unemployment insurance
In Oklahoma, personal care shops such as barbers have reopened by appointment only. Officials there and in many other states warned furloughed workers that refusing to take their old jobs back would disqualify them from unemployment insurance
Decisions on how to administer unemployment benefits are administered by the individual states -- and officials in many that are reopening say that they are hearing reports of workers who refused to take their old jobs back at the same wage. 
Maine, New Mexico and Idaho have the largest gap between wages and benefits, with the federally-subsidized unemployment benefits exceeding average wages by nearly 130 percent, according to a New York Times analysis.
Those states remain on lockdown -- but in Iowa, the fourth state on the list, restrictions on restaurants, gyms and retailers will begin lifting on Friday for less densely populated counties.
Iowans who qualify for the federal benefit receive, on average, more than 120 percent of their normal salaries while drawing unemployment.
Last week, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, a Republican, warned at a press conference that workers who are offered their job back after a layoff or furlough must return to work, or face their benefits being cut.
'To get the economy going, in order for us to have a good recovery, we need employees to return to work when there's an opportunity for them to do that,' Iowa Workforce Development Director Beth Townsend said in a Des Moines Register interview last week. 
Failing to return to work out of fear of catching the virus would be considered a voluntary resignation, which disqualifies workers from receiving unemployment benefits, officials said.
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, a Republican, warned at a press conference that workers who are offered their job back after furlough must return to work, or face their benefits being cut
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, a Republican, warned at a press conference that workers who are offered their job back after furlough must return to work, or face their benefits being cut
Business open in Georgia after lockdown is lifted
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The warning was echoed by officials in Oklahoma, Alabama and Tennessee.
In Oklahoma, restaurants, gyms and churches will reopen on Friday, under sanitation and social distancing guidelines.
Federally-boosted unemployment benefits are about 115 percent higher than average wages in Oklahoma.
'Obviously, if somebody turns down employment, then what will happen is, if the company chooses to call OESC (the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission) and let them know, then that individual's unemployment benefits will stop,' Oklahoma Secretary of Commerce and Workforce Development Sean Kouplen said in remarks reported by The Frontier, a Tulsa newspaper. 
'The individual has a right to appeal that based on, for example, a health concern,' he added. 
'We are seeing some businesses around the state who are offering individuals their jobs back at the same pay they had before, and the individuals are turning them down because maybe they're making the same or more with this elevated unemployment payment that we're seeing,' Kouplen said. 
'I don't blame the employees for doing that, and we're glad they're getting good unemployment, but the problem is we cannot relaunch the economy without workers,' he said. 
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A waitress wearing rubber gloves and a mask is seen taking orders for patrons at Puckett's Grocery & Restaurant on April 27 in Franklin, Tennessee. Tennessee is one of the first states to reopen restaurants after the onset of the coronavirus
A waitress wearing rubber gloves and a mask is seen taking orders for patrons at Puckett's Grocery & Restaurant on April 27 in Franklin, Tennessee. Tennessee is one of the first states to reopen restaurants after the onset of the coronavirus

In Alabama, restrictions will begin to ease at 5pm on Thursday. All retail stores can reopen subject to a 50 percent occupancy rate limit, and elective medical procedures can resume.
The Alabama Department of Labor preemptively warned unemployment claimants that if their employer calls them back they must accept work. 
'It's important for workers to know that if their employer reopens or otherwise calls them back to work, they must do so, unless they have a good work-related cause,' said Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington in a statement. 
'Attempts to collect unemployment benefits after quitting without a good work-related cause can be considered fraud,' he added.
Tennessee's restrictions begin to ease next week, with restaurants in more rural counties opening on Monday, and retailers following on Wednesday.
The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development said declining an offer to return to work could be considered a 'refusal to work' which could disqualify a person from receiving further unemployment assistance.
States warn workers they will lose their benefits if they refuse to return from furlough - with some making 120% MORE on unemployment than their regular paychecks States warn workers they will lose their benefits if they refuse to return from furlough - with some making 120% MORE on unemployment than their regular paychecks Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 01:55 Rating: 5

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