HARRISBURG – Senate Labor and Industry Committee chair Senator Camera Bartolotta (R-46) wrote a letter to Attorney General Josh Shapiro today urging him to provide clarity to Pennsylvanians regarding the status of employees who refuse to return to work after being laid off.
At a news conference on April 20, Governor Wolf suggested that employees who were laid off due to COVID-19 closures could refuse to return to work when their employers reopen, while still retaining eligibility for Unemployment Compensation (UC) benefits. This advice is in clear violation of Pennsylvania law and federal guidance and could lead employees to commit fraud, Bartolotta said.
“As Chair of the Senate Labor and Industry Committee, I am dismayed by Governor Wolf’s continued guidance to Pennsylvanians to inappropriately collect unemployment compensation benefits and potentially commit UC fraud,” Bartolotta said. “Despite my urging and the urging of others for the Governor to correct the record, he has continued to offer similar guidance to Pennsylvanians in the weeks since that time.”
Pennsylvania law makes it clear that an employee is not eligible for unemployment benefits if they refused suitable work without just cause. In addition, federal guidance for the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act makes it clear that all existing eligibility requirements must be followed in order to ensure program integrity.
Bartolotta urged the Attorney General to set the record straight and ensure employees and employers understand their rights and responsibilities under the law so they do not inadvertently commit crimes based on the governor’s faulty guidance.
“As Pennsylvania’s top law enforcement official you have responsibility to uphold the Commonwealth’s laws and regulations,” Bartolotta said in the letter. “Just as you recently advised UC claimants to be careful of scammers trying to steal personal information through fake unemployment filing websites, I ask that you offer similar caution to Pennsylvanians about the ramifications of committing UC fraud.”
CONTACT: Eric Kratz (717) 787-1463