Dr. Chhoda explores guidelines from the Department of Labor about ‘suitable employment’ and actions an employer can take if an unemployment insurance claimant refuses an offer of suitable employment.
What is an offer of suitable employment and how is it connected to unemployment insurance eligibility?
Most state unemployment insurance laws include language defining suitable employment. Typically, suitable employment is connected to the previous job’s wage level, type of work, and the claimant’s skills.
Refusing an offer of suitable employment (as defined in state law) without good cause will often disqualify individuals from continued eligibility for unemployment compensation.
For example, if an individual’s former employer calls the individual back to work after having temporarily laid the individual off for reasons related to the pandemic, the individual would very likely have to accept the offer to return to work, or jeopardize his or her eligibility for unemployment insurance benefits, absent some extenuating circumstance, such as if the individual tested positive for the pandemic. The job an individual held before the spread of the pandemic will constitute, in the vast majority of cases, suitable employment for purposes of unemployment insurance eligibility.
What can an employer do if it believes an unemployment insurance claimant has refused an offer of suitable employment?
Nearly all states have processes for employers to submit documentation that an offer of suitable employment was refused by an unemployment insurance claimant. Please contact your state unemployment insurance agency for additional information.