SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Department of Workforce Services warned that Utahns receiving unemployment benefits will risk losing weekly payments if they refuse suitable offers to return to work.
Record numbers of workers have filed for unemployment as they’re been laid off from their jobs due to the coronavirus slowdown.
“If an individual fails to disclose the refusal of an offer of suitable work, that individual may be required to pay back benefits received and face possible prosecution for fraud,” officials from Workforce Services said in a statement.
The department reminded that refusing a suitable job offer could be the same as quitting a job, and that would make an individual ineligible for unemployment benefits.
Employers must clearly communicate the offer for suitable work, the department said. If the offer is declined, the employer should submit a report to jobs.utah.gov/ui/home/Fraud/FraudForm.
“What we’ll do is we will freeze that unemployment benefit and get in contact with the claimant and in contact with the employer to determine whether there is good cause for that refusal,” said Kevin Burt, director of Utah’s Unemployment Insurance Division. “If there’s not good cause, it will lead to a ‘quit,’ and a loss of unemployment benefits.”
The statement went on to say that Utah residents can return to work at reduced hours and still receive prorated unemployment benefits for the hours they didn’t work. That prorated benefit will also still make them eligible for the $600 weekly federal unemployment benefit.
“We are encouraged to hear from both employers and employees that they are beginning to return to work,” said Jon Pierpont, executive director of the Department of Workforce Services. “Unemployment benefits can serve as an important and helpful tool for dialing the economy back up, but they must be used correctly.”