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3-5 What happens when an employee refuses to return to work?

Greetings GO-HR friends and family.

With businesses gradually coming back online, employers are now struggling to get employees to agree to come back to work because unemployment (and summer) are much more attractive than working for some. Most importantly, the ODJFS (check with the unemployment system in your state for similar guidance, or contact us and we can try to help) has provided employers with some recourse.

ODJFS: On Friday, May 1, the ODJFS provided employers with a process to report employees who refuse to leave unemployment and return to work when requested. If you contact an employee to return to work (RTW) and the employee refuses or quits, visit and click on Report COVID-19 Work Refusals. You can report the employee and the ODJFS will then conduct an investigation, talking to both parties, and make a determination.

EVP: Remember, you have an employee value proposition (EVP)for employees that the ODJFS does not. If you have not yet done so, clearly review the WHY when it comes to why an employee would want to work for you: compensation, benefits, culture, etc. Now is a great time to update this information, which may include flexible schedules, remote working, etc. Know this information and remind employees. A strong EVP will last well beyond COVID-19, so be comfortable improving and articulating it to laid off and prospective new employees, as well as the ones who have continued working for you throughout all of this.

Safe Workplace: As a reminder, one of your obligations prior to bringing employees back to work is to ensure you are following the mandatory requirements and recommendations for providing a safe workplace. Don’t just give these items lip service; ensure you are doing these things and let your laid off employees know what you’re doing to ensure as safe a workplace as possible. This will play in your favor if ODJFS does have to investigate and make a determination.  (Thank you Dianne at Safex for the handy checklist we’ve attached here for you!)

As a reminder, here is the link to Ohio Department of Health’s sector-specific reopening requirements. These are being regularly updated as things change, so check back often.

Also, remember to encourage your employees to use your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) if they are anxious. If you do not have access to this very affordable resource, please reach out and we can provide information for an EAP.

Documentation: You should be documenting EVERYTHING, including attempts to call back employees (we gave you a spreadsheet to use last week) and their responses, your cleaning schedules, etc. You never know when this information will be needed.

As always, please let us know how we can be of assistance.


GO-HR (a dba of BoldlyGO Career and HR Management, LLC)

[O] 614-473-0122  ▪  [C] 614-233-1522

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