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12 Responds: What if I can’t go back to work?

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EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Many people writing into “12 Responds” want to know if their unemployment benefits will stop if their employer reopens but they can’t go back to work.

The reasons vary, from fear of getting sick to underlying health conditions to lack of childcare.

Jennifer, a single mother of three, wrote into 12 Responds saying, “my job is saying that everyone has to go back to work next week or be reported to unemployment as a refusal. Is it a refusal if the daycares are closed?”

The Department of Labor and Training says for someone to refuse to go back to work an still collect unemployment, there must be “good cause,” and there are three basic criteria they list as acceptable:

• You have tested positive for COVID-19 and therefore are unable to work;

• Your doctor recommends you not work because you are high-risk; or

• You are the sole caregiver for someone who has no place to receive care (due to school/daycare closures) and cannot stay home alone.

The DLT warns that if someone collects unemployment without good cause, it is considered fraud.

Tim White (twhite@wpri.com) is the Target 12 managing editor and chief investigative reporter at 12 News, and the host of Newsmakers. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook.

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