As the District of Columbia reopens, you may be called back to work or find a new job. The guidance below includes important information about how returning to work could affect your benefits.
I HAVE BEEN RECEIVING UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS, BUT I’M NOW GETTING READY TO GO BACK TO WORK. WHAT SHOULD I DO?
When you return to work, stop filing your Weekly Certifications. You do not need to report to DOES that you’ve gone back to work. If you continue to receive benefits for weeks after you return to work, you may have to pay back the benefits that were improperly paid.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I’M RETURNING TO WORK PART-TIME OR WITH REDUCED HOURS?
Continue to file your Weekly Certifications and report any wages you earn. Any wages you earn may affect your weekly benefit amount.
MY EMPLOYER HAS CALLED ME BACK TO WORK. WHAT HAPPENS IF I CHOOSE NOT TO RETURN?
DOES will make a decision of whether you can collect unemployment benefits on a case-by-case basis. If you choose not to go to work after your employer says you can return, you may not be able to receive unemployment benefits. If your employer has called you back and you did not return to work, you need to let DOES know that you refused an offer to work when filing your Weekly Certification. You will be able to provide a reason why you decided not to go back to work.
If DOES determines that you have a “good cause” for not returning to work, you may continue to receive benefits. Here are some examples of “good causes” related to COVID-19:
- You are sick with COVID-19
- You have symptoms of COVID-19
- Someone you live with is sick with COVID-19
- You have a medical condition that puts you at high risk of serious illness because of COVID-19
The law doesn’t allow an unemployed person to receive benefits after turning down a job offer because of a general fear of COVID-19.
I DON’T FEEL SAFE RETURNING TO WORK BECAUSE I AM 65 OR OLDER OR HAVE A MEDICAL CONDITION THAT PUTS ME AT HIGHER RISK OF SERIOUS ILLNESS IF I GET COVID-19. CAN I REFUSE TO RETURN TO WORK?
If you are 65 or older or have a medical condition that puts you at a high risk of serious illness from COVID-19, you may continue to receive benefits without returning to work if your employer:
- Is not able to offer you a safe workplace
- Does not allow for another way to work such as teleworking
A note from your doctor will be accepted as proof of a high-risk medical condition.
I AM NOT 65 OR OLDER OR AT HIGH RISK OF SERIOUS ILLNESS IF I GET COVID-19. HOWEVER, I KNOW THAT MY WORK ENVIRONMENT IS NOT SAFE. CAN I CHOOSE NOT TO RETURN TO WORK AND STILL RECEIVE BENEFITS?
You should talk to your employer. If your employer has taken steps to create a safer workplace for you and your co-workers based on the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), you may not be able to receive benefits if you don’t return to work. If your employer is not following safety standards, then you may be able to receive benefits if you don’t return to work.
I CAN MAKE MORE MONEY COLLECTING UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS THAN I CAN IF I RETURN TO WORK. CAN I STILL RECEIVE BENEFITS IF I DON’T RETURN TO MY OLD JOB BECAUSE I WILL EARN LESS?
No. Choosing not to work because you will earn less than you can receive in unemployment benefits is not a “good cause.” If your employer offered your job back or you have been offered another job, you may not be able to collect benefits.
I HAVE GONE BACK TO WORK BUT AM STILL OWED SOME OF MY UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS. WILL I STILL GET WHAT I AM OWED?
Yes. When you go back to work, you will still receive all unemployment benefits that haven’t been paid.
WHAT IF I DISAGREE WITH THE DECISION THAT IS MADE ABOUT MY BENEFITS?
DOES will let you and your employer know whether you can receive benefits. You and your employer both have the right to appeal if you disagree with the decision.