Governor Larry Hogan recently announced the next round of safe and phased reopenings in conjunction with stage two of the ‘Maryland Strong: Roadmap to Recovery’ plan.
In light of these reopenings, the Maryland Department of Labor has notified all unemployment claimants who are on temporary layoff or are furloughed due to COVID-19 that they are required to return to work if called back by their employer. If a claimant refuses an offer of work, it may result in the delay or denial of the claimant’s benefits.
Labor’s Division of Unemployment Insurance requires employers to report the following information within 15 days of when they offer work and it is refused by the employee:
Employee’s full name and social security number
The date the employee was offered work
The date the employee refused the offer of work
Employers who have a valid Maryland account number and FEIN may easily report job refusals and update return to work dates by utilizing the Division’s new online application available at https://secure-2.dllr.state.md.us/net207/welcome.aspx. The application will accept an updated return to work date up to 30 days in the past and up to 12 months in the future. Employers without a valid Maryland account number, such as federal employers and those who are out-of-state, may report job refusals and update return to work dates by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
However, please note there are circumstances where a claimant has “good cause” to refuse an offer of work, including:
Being sick or still 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
The work is not “suitable.” In the context of an individual returning to work with the same employer in which the individual had been laid off or furloughed as a direct result of COVID-19, suitable employment means employment that the claimant is qualified for based on their customary occupation, experience, education level, and/or training.
Upon receipt of this information from the employer, Labor will schedule a telephone fact-finding appointment with the claimant where the claimant will be able to address the failure to return-to-work/job refusal issue. The employer will also be contacted to provide the circumstances of the job offer. After the Division has collected the available facts surrounding the job offer, a determination will be made.
Employers that have questions regarding the procedures noted above should contact their E. Cohen advisor or the Maryland Department of Labor.