12K+ Virginians refuse to return to work amid pandemic
VEC reports 400K job vacancies as people continue filing jobless claims
More than 12,000 Virginians who have filed jobless claims during the pandemic have refused to return to work, the Virginia Employment Commission announced Friday, while there are approximately 400,000 job vacancies posted on the Virginia Workforce Connection website.
“While certain circumstances, such as health, child care or other caregiver responsibilities, may warrant continued payments of unemployment benefits to a claimant who has refused to return to work, the payments will be paused pending the outcome of an administrative review,” the VEC said in a statement. For those refusing to return to work as COVID-19-related restrictions are lifted during Gov. Ralph Northam’s Forward Virginia phased reopening plan, unemployment benefits will be suspended.
More than 79,000 claims are pending administrative review. According to the VEC, many of these are cases in which an employer disputed an applicant’s reason for being out of work.
Since March 15, the VEC has received 849,486 initial claims for unemployment benefits and approved and issued payments to 75% of claimants. In total, the VEC distributed more than $4.2 billion to people who filed claims during the pandemic. Just last week, more than 27,000 Virginians filed initial claims for unemployment.
Continued jobless claims in Virginia last week were at 386,893. People receiving unemployment benefits through VEC must file weekly unemployment claims in order to continue receiving benefits.
The VEC reminds Virginians that those who are called back to work must generally go back and that, under law, an employer is not required to keep a position open for an employee who refuses to return to work. If a claimant received an overpayment of benefits, they’ll be required to pay them back.
“Through the new federal programs, as well as through executive action by Gov. Ralph Northam, eligibility criteria for unemployment benefits have expanded,” the VEC statement reads. “Nevertheless, not all applicants qualify for payment.”
Employers can report employees who refuse to return to work through the VEC website.