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Who must work, who doesn't, and what employers can do to catch fraud

If you are a business owner or if you are an employee who cannot go back to work, make sure you have everything in writing.

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas is opening back up starting on May 1.

Those of you unemployed may get offered your old job back. And those who are business owners will hopefully be ready to hire again.

Here’s what you need to know:

Employees

Prior to COVID-19, if you’re offered your job back, you take it or you lose unemployment. It’s considered “suitable” work. Part of the unemployment requirements is that someone is willing and able to accept suitable work.

These are not normal times.

Due to COVID-19, Texas Workforce Commission issues this guidance:

“Each unemployment insurance claim is currently evaluated on an individual basis. However, because of the COVID-19 emergency, the following are reasons benefits would be granted if the individual refused suitable work.

Reason for refusal:

  • At High Risk: People 65 years or older are at a higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19.
  • Household member at high risk: People 65 years or older are at a higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19.
  • Diagnosed with COVID: The individual has tested positive for COVID-19 by a source authorized by the State of Texas and is not recovered.
  • Family member with COVID: Anybody in the household has tested positive for COVID-19 by a source authorized by the State of Texas and is not recovered and 14 days have not yet passed.
  • Quarantined: Individual is currently in 14-day quarantine due to close contact exposure to COVID-19.
  • Childcare: Child’s school or daycare closed and no alternatives are available.

Any other situation will be subject to a case by case review by TWC based on individual circumstances.”

RELATED: Here are 10 employers hiring right now in Texas

Employers

Texas Workforce Commission wants you to look out for fraud.

In an online webinar with small business owners in South Texas, TWC suggested employees document all offers in writing or recording.

“We're going to presume that these are employees you had before, that the job was suitable. Make sure the pay is the same, the schedule is the same, et cetera. Also, under the current COVID-19 crisis, it's important for employers to be able to show that the work is suitable based on the health and safety requirements of the job right now. So, make sure also that you are complying with the CDC and OSHA guidelines in the performing of the work under the current situation that we have,” said Elsa Ramos, TWC Legal Counsel.

If you suspect fraud, let TWC know.

An investigator will call you within 48 hours during normal business hours.

In 2019, more than 30 people were criminally sentenced for unemployment insurance fraud.

WATCH: What employers and employees need to know baout reopening Texas

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