With many Utahns receiving adequate income through unemployment insurance benefits from the state and federal programs, some employees may be tempted to not return to work when their jobs open back up.

“Don’t do it,” says the Utah Department of Workforce Services (DWS). 

“As restrictions begin lifting and businesses receive assistance such as the Paycheck Protection Program, the Utah Department of Workforce Services reminds Utahns receiving unemployment benefits that they must accept suitable offers to return to work or risk losing unemployment benefits. Refusal of a suitable job offer may be determined as a ‘quit’ (rather than laid off or terminated), making them ineligible for further unemployment benefits,” a department release said.

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.  If an employer has clearly communicated a suitable job offer, but the employee refuses to return to work, the employer should report it to DWS.

“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 DWS. “Unemployment benefits can serve as an important and helpful tool for dialing the economy back up, but they must be used correctly.”

The unemployment insurance system is designed to handle individuals’ eligibility on a week-to-week basis, helping those returning to work at reduced hours. Individuals may continue to be eligible for prorated benefits; however, all wages earned must be reported accurately in their weekly claims or it will result in overpayments, the department said. Once Utahns have returned to full-time work there is no need to contact DWS. Individuals should simply stop filing their weekly claim and the benefits will be stopped.

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