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Coronavirus In Ohio: Fear Of Getting Sick Not Enough To Qualify For Unemployment

Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services in downtown Columbus.
Ohio Public Radio
Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services in downtown Columbus.

As Ohio’s businesses reopen, workers are concerned about the availability of child care, the cleanliness of their workplaces and the safety of vulnerable family members before going back to work.

Of the 28.5% of claims that have been denied as of Friday, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services says none have been because of COVID-19-related reasons.

But ODJFS director Kimberly Hall says just being afraid of getting sick isn’t a good reason to not go back to work if employees are recalled.

“You would need more," Hall said. "That would be evaluated on a case-by-case basis – more to establish the employer is not aligning with appropriate health and safety protocols, there’s a health condition, etc. But fear itself, standing alone, is not to be sufficient.”

Hall says the agency is evaluating what criteria that would apply specifically to refuse to return to work because of COVID-19.

The ODJFS website included a page that allowed employers to "report COVID-19 employee fraud," such as not returning to work when given an offer. That page has been taken down.

In April, Ohio hit a statewide unemployment rate of 16.8%, its highest on record and above the national average.