EUGENE, Ore. -- With many counties preparing for phase one of reopening on Friday, workers who have been asked to return to their jobs may see their unemployment benefits come to an end while some may be able to continue receiving benefits.
KEZI 9 News has received calls from numerous workers who are on unemployment and fear that returning to work could put them at risk of exposure to coronavirus. Many of the workers were pregnant women, people with health concerns and personal care workers.
According to the Oregon Employment Department, employees can continue claiming unemployment benefits if they do not return when called back to work under the following conditions:
- They are ill with coronavirus
- They have possibly been exposed to coronavirus and are under a mandatory quarantine
- They are caring for a family member who has coronavirus or is under mandatory quarantine
- They must stay home to care for a child due to the closure of schools or other child care providers
- They have been advised by health care providers to self-quarantine due to the possible risk of exposure
- Their workplace has not met state guidelines
Officials told KEZI 9 News that these workers will be able to access benefits based on the details of their individual case. The employment department may need to reach out to employees and employers to gather information.
Oakridge resident Althea Rowell is on unemployment after losing her job during the pandemic. She said the benefits have largely allowed her to stay safe from exposure.
"Even though I enjoy staying home and I feel safer and I'm keeping other people safe, I kind of have to return to work at some point," she said. "I have to go back, and if that's when my unemployment runs out like it is for most people, then that's whenever they tell me to. And I don't have a say when that is."