With the pandemic that is the Coronavirus affecting the whole world, many employees may be considering staying home these next few weeks while the virus is spreading throughout the United States.
Unemployment in Florida
In Florida, unemployment benefits have been renamed “reemployment assistance” and is run by the Department of Economic Opportunity. In order to claim such benefits in Florida, a worker must show that their past earnings meet certain thresholds, they are unemployed through no fault of their own, and are able, available, and actively searching for work.
To be out of work “through no fault of your own” means you were laid off or lost your job due to a reduction-in-force or downsizing. If a worker is fired, they can collect reemployment benefits, unless they are fired due to their own misconduct. Employees who are fired for performance issues, inefficiency, or carelessness, will ordinarily still be eligible for the benefits. If an employee quits, they are not eligible for reemployment benefits unless they have good reason for quitting, related to work, personal illness, or disability.
Reemployment and the Coronavirus
The same employees wondering if they can stay home are wondering if their employers will fire them for staying home. They are also wondering whether they could claim reemployment benefits at that time.
If you are fired in Florida for not showing up to work under these circumstances, it will likely not be considered a firing due to your own misconduct. Misconduct is intentional action that shows a deliberate disregard for the employer’s interest. Thus, being fired for not showing up due to fear of the virus would not fall into this misconduct, and the employee likely can claim reemployment benefits.
On a similar note, if an employee quits because their employer is requiring them to work, they may claim reemployment benefits in Florida. Quitting because of concern of being infected will likely be considered good reason for quitting allowing the employee to claim unemployment benefits.