Can I Go On Unemployment If I Leave Work Temporarily Due To Coronavirus?
April 2, 2020 6:47 PM   Subscribe

I work in a butcher shop in Los Angeles. We have been dealing with an intense flow of people over the past few weeks. It was only yesterday that we closed the shop and are are only accepting on-line orders. I am unable to contact the state as I am working the counter during the hours the Unemployment offices are open and cannot spend the time needed to remain on hold

I am 57 YO. I feel very uncomfortable being in the environment at this time and am thinking of taking time off until the virus peak has past and the environment here reaches an equilibrium. (Should my employers agree). Due to this unique event, has there been and changes by the state government where one can voluntarily take time off and draw unemployment until the threat passes.
posted by goalyeehah to Law & Government (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It's going to vary a little by state, but see this article from Ask A Manager

The most relevant bit is:

What if I quit my job because of something related to coronavirus?
It depends on the specifics. If you quit because of one of the situations above (your child’s school closed and you need to care for them at home, or your doctor recommended you quarantine), you’ll be eligible for unemployment. But if you quit because you worried about the safety of continuing to work and your employer insisted on staying open, it doesn’t look like you’d be eligible.
posted by brainmouse at 6:54 PM on April 2, 2020

I'm an Angeleno and the advice I got was file now -- the entire thing can be done online (though literally tonight I think is a planned outage for tech updates) -- and then wait for them to contact you, which used to take 3 weeks *before* this big surge. I'm betting that by the time they contact you (and me), the rules will have become clearer. Unemployment pay is retroactive too.
posted by BlahLaLa at 7:42 PM on April 2, 2020 [3 favorites]

You may be able to get legal advice (MeFi Wiki) related to your specific situation from a free online clinic or telephone helpline (Relating to work in CALIFORNIA ONLY) (Legal Aid at Work), which appears necessary to answer your specific question.

There is also general legal information related to Coronavirus – Frequently Asked Questions (Legal Aid at Work) that could help focus your questions for an attorney in your jurisdiction, including about whether you have 'good cause to quit,' e.g.
I’m afraid of getting COVID-19, or I feel unsafe in my workplace because of COVID-19. Can I be fired if I don’t show up to work?

Yes. But if you have a reasonable basis for not going to work, such as an occupational safety and health complaint against your employer for not providing a safe workplace, then you should request that your employer take steps to eliminate or minimize the harm.

If the employer is helping with social distancing, requiring employees who are sick (e.g., coughing, fever) to go home, offering telework, and/or rotating in-office schedules, then the employer is attempting to provide a reasonably safe workplace.
You can also use UI Online to file your claim, certify for benefits, and get payment information. Information about Eligibility Requirements include: "The EDD will schedule a phone interview to discuss your claim and circumstances. If you quit, you must prove good cause for quitting. If you are fired, your employer must prove there was misconduct. Either party can disagree with the decision and file an appeal."
posted by katra at 7:54 PM on April 2, 2020 [2 favorites]

Does your employer employ 50 workers or more? Have you worked there for a year? If so you are eligible for FMLA which will protect your right to return to your job. Do you have a doctor? Can you reach them by email or do a phone visit during your lunch break? Share your concerns about your risk. Many of my coworkers who are high risk have had good luck having their doctors document that they are too high risk to work right now. The EDD is all available online.
posted by latkes at 8:48 PM on April 2, 2020

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