Published on: April 25, 2020
Authors: D. Mark Wilson
April 25, 2020
The Honorable Eugene Scalia
U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20210
Dear Mr. Secretary:
I write to urge the Department of Labor to provide additional guidance regarding individuals who quit their jobs during this pandemic. We appreciate the guidance the Department provided in Unemployment Insurance Program Letter No. 16-20. However, it would be helpful for the Department to provide additional examples of when an individual is NOT eligible for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits when they quit their job.
Specifically, we are concerned that some employees may decide to quit because of fear of contracting COVID-19 commuting to work and subsequently file for UI benefits. Moreover, this becomes an appealing option given that under the CARES Act many workers that file for unemployment insurance will receive benefits that greatly exceed their weekly earnings if they remain on the job.
We have received a number of questions from member companies that we would like the Department to address. If an employee has used all of their available paid leave benefits, would they be eligible for UI benefits if they quit their job because they fear they may be exposed to COVID-19 while commuting to work? Or, would this be a voluntary decision that would make them ineligible for UI benefits? Further, if an employer implements the CDC recommendations to protect their employees and visitors from the pandemic and employees still quit because they are afraid they may be exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace, would they be eligible for UI benefits?
Some of our members would be delighted to discuss these issues with you and your staff by phone or video conference if that would be helpful. Please me at [email protected] to arrange a meeting.
D. Mark Wilson
Vice President, Health & Employment Policy
HR Policy Association
Cc: Pat Pizzella
 Patricia M. Anderson and Phillip Levine, The Unemployed and Essential Low-Wage Workers After the CARES Act, EconoFact, April 6, 2020, available at: https://econofact.org/the-unemployed-and-essential-low-wage-workers-after-the-cares-act.