WACO,TX — Update: Governor Greg Abbott announced that the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) has issued new guidance to unemployment claimants concerning their eligibility for unemployment benefits should they choose not to return to work at this time due to COVID-19.
Under this guidance, Texans can continue to receive unemployment benefits throughout the COVID-19 response if they choose not to return to work for certain reasons as specified by TWC.
For more information on those guidelines, click here.
Folks who don't return to work in restaurants, retail or theaters, using coronavirus as an excuse, could get an unpleasant surprise.
While Texas opened up benefits to help ease the pain of COVID-19, it's just as serious about getting people back to work.
As Texas retail, theater and restaurant workers go back to the job, some with underlying health conditions may wonder if its safe.
The state says, it is.
And if workers don’t go back, they may lose an important state benefit.
Ali Anderson applauds the Texas plan to get the economy rolling again, but in the back of her mind, she wonders if it's 100% safe for workers.
"I think it's good to get things going, but I do feel like that if people feel that it wouldn't be safe, I don't think it would be good for them to have to go in,” said the Waco mother.
The Workforce Commission says, either go back to your job or get a new one.
Texas plans to cut some off their unemployment benefits if they don't.
Attorney Joshua Weaver says Texas has the power to do this, and it balances a very calculated move in the first days of the pandemic.
”We saw an exercise of this power, early in the epidemic when they actually eased up the rules that control unemployment benefits. They made it easier for people and speedier for them to get some relief,” he said.
The Governor said hard work made Texas a success, and not a welfare state.
”What they're basically saying is, yeah we might all be at risk physically, but unless you are mentally willing to go take the work that is offered to you, then you're not qualified for unemployment benefits,” said Weaver.
Still, Ali Anderson sees the case for at least a hearing from workers who fear the virus because of their already existing medical frailties.
”I do think if there was some way to do exceptions for people that are more at risk, to not have to go through that, scare,” she said.
It’s one reason Governor Abbott ordered this phased approach to reopening for business.
He believes, with help from medical experts, he can guide the Texas economy back into health.