Iowa is warning furloughed workers that they will lose their unemployment benefits if they refuse to return when their employer calls them back to work.
Gov. Kim Reynolds is moving to partially reopen 77 of the state’s 99 counties Friday, relaxing restrictions that were intended to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Restaurants, some bars, malls, fitness centers, and retail stores are expected to open their doors for the first time in several weeks.
The reopening comes as Iowa experiences one of the nation’s fastest growth rates in coronavirus cases. At least 127 Iowa residents have died in the pandemic and 300 are hospitalized.
Iowa Workforce Development said Monday that failing to return to work out of fear of catching the virus will be considered a voluntary quit, which disqualifies workers from receiving unemployment benefits.
The department urged employers to report workers who don’t return to their jobs for a good reason “as soon as possible.” It warned that the federal law providing an additional $600 weekly in benefits contains “serious consequences” for fraudulent claims.
Workers who do not return can collect benefits only under certain circumstances, such as being sick due to the virus or living with an infected family member.