TOPEKA, Kan. (KWCH) The Kansas Department of Labor is answering your questions about unemployment benefits and refusing to return to work.
KDOL says if a person is at high risk for COVID-19 or lives with someone who is, they may not be disqualified from benefits for refusing to return to work.
KDOL says if someone is not high-risk and does not live with someone who is, they could lose their benefits if they don’t return to work when asked.
The department says decisions are made on a case-by-case basis, and it will consider whether an employer is offering remote work or has proper safety procedures put in place.
KDOL says both parties will be notified about the decision.
You can for more details on the department’s Job Refusal page.
Wednesday, Eyewitness News spoke with a man who is considered high risk, but says he’s losing money being on unemployment.
“I feel like I can get a job, you know later, but I can’t get another life, you know, Rory Radcliff says. “And I want to be there to watch my son grow up.”
Radcliff had a job paying $23 per hour before the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, he says he’s had to provide for his family with unemployment from the state.
“I’m going to be in the hole even with unemployment, like I’m still not making what I was making before,” he says. “I would rather have a job that I could go to work at but not when I have to risk my life for it.”
Radcliff would fall under the “High-risk-for-COVID-19” category with KDOL, as he suffers from severe asthma and high blood pressure, and is still in recovery from a battle against cancer.
He says he’s in a bad situation where he wants to provide for his family the way he was before the pandemic, but can’t risk catching the virus.
“I can see myself going back to work and catching this and maybe making it a month before, you know, I end up in the hospital or on a ventilator, you know” Radcliff says. “And there’s a 50-50 chance that I could make it with my health, my health conditions and risk. And I’d rather be around to see my son grow up.”
He says he’ll have to get another job eventually, but currently, he’s apprehensive to even go to the grocery store due to concerns about how easily COVID-19 can spread. So, how can he return to work safely?
“I know i’m gonna have to go look for a job eventually,” Radcliff says. ” Now the federal government (is) saying individuals like me aren’t even supposed to leave the house until Phase 4, but we got the State of Kansas that’s gonna tell us later that we have to go look for a job or we’re gonna lose our benefits. There’s gotta be… There’s got to be a line drawn right there, you know. That’s not right.”
Radcliff says he understands the Kansas Department of Labor wasn’t prepared for the number of people who are on unemployment, but he wants to department to put people’s health first.