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Old 05-22-2020, 02:03 PM
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High-risk people who are called back to work


Suppose someone has been identified by MD's as being at high risk for a severe, possibly fatal case of COVID. When that person's place of employment reopens and he's called back to work, are his only choices to return to work or get fired? If he's fired, is he still eligible for CARES Act unemployment benefits, only regular unemployment benefits, or none at all?
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Old 05-22-2020, 02:35 PM
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My friend is high risk (overweight, Type 1 diabetic, heart patient (bypass last year)) and works as a server.

She has been able to get PUA benefits and will continue to get them. She's had to submit medical info/letters from her doctor to her restaurant to keep employed but they're not fighting it.

Here's the requirements for collecting PUA benefits:

Quote:
To be eligible for PUA, the individual must NOT be eligible for regular unemployment benefits. Additionally, individuals must meet one of the following circumstances:

The individual has been diagnosed with COVID-19, or is experiencing symptoms and is seeking medical diagnosis;
A member of the individual’s household has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
The individual is providing care for a family member or member of the household who has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
A child or other person in the household for which the individual has primary caregiving responsibility is unable to attend school or another facility is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 emergency, and the school or care is required for the individual to work;
The individual is unable to reach the place of employment because of a COVID-19 quarantine;
The individual is unable to reach the place of employment because a healthcare professional has advised him or her to self-quarantine due to COVID-19 concerns;
The individual was scheduled to commence employment and does not have a job or is unable to reach the job as a direct result of COVID-19;
The individual has become the breadwinner or major support for a household because the head of the household has died as a direct result of COVID-19;
The individual has quit his/her job as a direct result of COVID-19;
The individual was laid off as a direct result of COVID-19;
The individual’s place of employment is closed as a direct result of COVID-19

There is no minimum income requirement for PUA.
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Old 05-22-2020, 02:39 PM
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One of my friends is high-risk (HIV positive), and never left work, because he's in an essential job that can't be done remotely. He says that he feels like he's ahead of the curve, because he's been sanitizing everything and so on since before it was cool.
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Old 05-22-2020, 03:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZipperJJ View Post
My friend is high risk (overweight, Type 1 diabetic, heart patient (bypass last year)) and works as a server.

She has been able to get PUA benefits and will continue to get them. She's had to submit medical info/letters from her doctor to her restaurant to keep employed but they're not fighting it.

Here's the requirements for collecting PUA benefits:
Thanks. Doesn't PUA expire on December 31st? Or are you thinking Congress will likely extend it?
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Old 05-22-2020, 03:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
One of my friends is high-risk (HIV positive), and never left work, because he's in an essential job that can't be done remotely. He says that he feels like he's ahead of the curve, because he's been sanitizing everything and so on since before it was cool.
Best wishes to him. Is he also able to social distance, and are his coworkers and clients wearing masks?
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Old 05-22-2020, 03:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nelliebly View Post
Thanks. Doesn't PUA expire on December 31st? Or are you thinking Congress will likely extend it?
Yes it expires. She needed to get out of the restaurant industry LAST year with her heart surgery. We've discussed several times how this is her second kick-in-the-butt warning to get out and get herself a desk job. So, she is starting to look elsewhere and hopefully will be well out of the restaurant by the time PUA expires.

She could do work-from-home customer service, or even customer service from an office. But being in a busy restaurant full of unmasked patrons with whom she'll have direct contact, while wearing a mask that makes it hard to breathe and is not going to fully protect her...that's not something that can work for someone who's at such a high risk.
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Old 05-23-2020, 12:23 PM
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A person with HIV on antiretroviral therapy has no greater risk than anyone else at large.

The basic problem is, with unemployment to qualify you HAVE to be able and willing to work. If not you don't qualify. (Each state has other rules but this is universal).

That said, you can look into OSHA requirements that require safe conditions for working. Unfortunately OSHA was so backlogged before this Covid-19 situation, it could take three years to get action on a claim then, I can't imagine what it takes now.

I work for a non-profit helping people get off aid, and unfortunately this crisis isn't over and already I am seeing companies start pulling the shady things, such as forcing people back or even non rehiring those laid off so they can hire new people at less wages.

It will be very interesting once extended unemployment benefits end in July. Right now our office is very quiet, we're getting no referrals from the state (about 75% of our base) and not even ten phone calls per week regarding jobs, which BTW I do have.

I have a feeling this will be a big problem come Aug 1st..

Last edited by Carryon; 05-23-2020 at 12:25 PM. Reason: ETA
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Old 05-23-2020, 01:31 PM
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It might be helpful to consider the situation as if they didn't get laid off at all. If their business kept operating as normal, what options would the employee have as things progressed? If they felt the environment was too dangerous, they would have to quit and would not be eligible for unemployment. Risk of catching CV19 would not be a qualifying reason for leaving a job and getting employment. And it would be hard to use that as an excuse since all kinds of people are dying from CV19. Although this person might be at a much higher risk, the fact is that everyone is at risk.

And if the person is at high risk for dying from CV19, they are likely at high risk for many other common viruses. They wouldn't expect to get benefits every cold and flu season so they could isolate at home.

Such a person would be expected to find some kind of employment they could do, even if it was a work-at-home job. If the felt their old job was unsafe, they would need to find something they felt was safe. They couldn't stay on unemployment until this all was resolved and then get their old job back.
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Old 05-23-2020, 05:20 PM
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Quote:
And if the person is at high risk for dying from CV19, they are likely at high risk for many other common viruses. They wouldn't expect to get benefits every cold and flu season so they could isolate at home.
Yet these are different diseases. CDC criteria say that I should stay home (age, medical issues, sequelae of cancer treatment, diabetes), and do not normally say "you can and should stay home during cold and flu season." Different issues. My chance of dying if I get COVID is currently reported at 7% (as compared to a projected 2% for others). My chance of dying from a simple cold is negligible. Not at all comparable.
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