It’s a decision some people say they’re faced with right now — a paycheck versus health.
It’s why President Biden expanded an executive order he signed last month that would allow people who refuse unsafe working conditions because of the virus the ability to continue receiving financial help under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.
Refusing to work even when businesses offer you a position would typically disqualify you from collecting unemployment benefits but the Department of Labor is now bending the rules.
“Someone can’t just go out not work and claim unemployment,” said Daniela Carrion, a labor attorney at the Linesch Firm, P.A.. “I think that this gives us another level of humanity that ultimately before we really didn’t need to have. We didn’t have to ask her employees hey who do you live with, who in your family is potentially high risk.”
Carrion says it benefits everyone.
“You’re taking care of them and making sure they are not putting themselves and their families at risk potentially putting the business at some point a liability,” she said.
Carrion says employees must let their employer know of the unsafe conditions so the business has the opportunity to correct the danger.
“I think that it’s the employer's duty to ultimately assess the situation to figure out whether they can take that step in order to remedy the risk,” she said.
And, she thinks both employees and employers should read through the OSHA and DOL guidelines to better understand their rights.
The expanded measure also covers people who lost hours or were laid off even though the business they worked for remained open and covers school employees who were let go, or given fewer hours because of school closings.