Tennessee’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development says that since the agency follows federal guidelines to administer the state’s unemployment compensation program, a person not returning to work when there is available employment may be considered a ”refusal of work” and could potentially disqualify claimants from receiving Tennessee Unemployment Compensation (TUC) benefits.
The federal CARES Act provides provisions for individuals who have traditionally been ineligible for state unemployment benefits, but those provisions do not apply to employees apprehensive about returning to work because of health concerns, according to the department.
Under federal law, workers who have been placed on a temporary layoff related to COVID-19 who can work, and do not qualify for any other unemployment insurance provisions through the state or under the CARES Act, must return to work if called back.
Employees and employers can find answers to commonly asked questions about returning to work on the Department’s website.
Employers will also find a Refusal to Work Form on the website. They can use this form to notify the Department of an employee’s refusal to return the work. The Department will investigate the claim to determine if the employee is no longer eligible for unemployment benefits because they are able and available to earn income.