Ohio to workers: No benefits if you aren't willing to risk your lives


The state is encouraging employers to report workers who do not come back to reopened jobs out of fear of the coronavirus.

As Ohio Republican Gov. Mike DeWine prepares to lift many stay-at-home orders and reopen his state for business, his administration is asking employers to report workers who refuse to return to their jobs over continued fears for their health.

The Office of Unemployment Insurance Operations section of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services website has posted a form that employers can fill out and submit to notify the department when a worker has quit or refused to work when a job was available "due to COVID-19."

The form link reads, "Report COVID-19 Employee Fraud."

Since in general employees are eligible for unemployment insurance benefits only if they've lost their jobs through no fault of their own, the state would be able to use the reported information to cut off payments.

Some congressional Republicans have suggested that people will choose not to work because of the benefits included in the coronavirus relief package Congress passed last month. Republican senators, including Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and Tim Scott of South Carolina, had tried to make the benefits package less generous than proposed but ultimately failed.

DeWine is one of a handful of governors starting to lift social distancing measures.

DeWine urged those who can work from home to continue to do so, but is gradually allowing employers to reopen their doors. DeWine tweeted on Sunday that health care providers were allowed to reopen on May 1; manufacturing, construction, and "general office workplaces" could reopen on Monday; and retail businesses would be allowed to reopen on May 12.

The DeWine administration joins Iowa Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds in saying that residents who don't go back to work when their workplaces reopen will be ineligible for unemployment benefits. Meanwhile, though, many are afraid to go back. Infection and death rates connected with the coronavirus continue to rise across the country.

In a recent ABC News/Ipsos poll, 80% of respondents said they are worried about contracting the coronavirus.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.