Iowa tells workers to return to their jobs or lose unemployment benefits, despite warnings that reopening could lead to a 2nd wave of infections

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  • Iowa is preparing to partially reopen 77 counties on Friday.
  • The state said furloughed employees who refuse to return to work would lose their unemployment benefits — and Gov. Kim Reynolds said it could disqualify them from future unemployment benefits.
  • However, a group of experts advised the governor last week not to loosen restrictions and said the state has not reached its peak of infections and deaths.

As Iowa prepares to partially reopen on Friday, the state has told furloughed workers that they will lose their unemployment benefits if they refuse to return to work.

The Des Moines Register reported that businesses like restaurants, bars, retail stores, and fitness centers would be allowed to reopen at half capacity starting on May 1. Gov. Kim Reynolds said the 77 reopening counties either have no cases or are on a downward trend.

Iowa Workforce Development, a state agency that provides employment services for individual workers, said an employee’s refusal return to work out of fear would be considered a “voluntary quit” — which would mean they could no longer receive unemployment benefits. The announcement applies to workers across the state.

Ryan West, the deputy director of Iowa Workforce Development, told Radio Iowa that there were some exceptions, such as workers diagnosed with COVID-19.


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