Ability

I’ve been asked by many employers “How is an employee, who has medical restrictions, found eligible to receive unemployment benefits?  They cannot do the job for which they were hired!

The answer to this question is simple – YES (unfortunately)! If an employee has been put on restrictions but can still work, they are eligible for unemployment. The state is looking to see if the claimant can do some type of work, and not necessarily the work they do for you.

For example, A security company hires an employee full time as a guard. The shift the claimant accepts requires 8 hours of standing.  The employee provides the employer with a doctor’s restriction noting that they must sit every 2 hours for 20 minutes. The employer is unable to accommodate this restriction.

The first requirement to collect unemployment benefits is that a claimant is able, available, and actively seeking a full-time position. Whether the restriction is permanent or temporary, the employee would be eligible for benefits as long as they could perform some type of work.  In this case, if the claimant could perform a sedentary position, they would be eligible.

But what if they are out on leave?

Many times an employer will require the employee to go out on FMLA or use unpaid sick time to cover them while they are out of work. The employee is still eligible to apply for unemployment benefits as long as they are able and available for work.  It is important to understand that even if you put the employee out on an approved leave of absence, they would still collect unemployment because technically they could still do some type of work. You are simply just letting them use the leave of absence so that once they get better and the restrictions are lifted, they can come back to work.

On the other hand, if an employee presents you with medical documentation stating that they cannot work AT ALL, they would not be able to collect unemployment benefits because they are not “able and available” for work and under the law, you must be to collect unemployment benefits.

You should understand that every request is different in nature, so be sure to consult with your Corporate Cost Control team to see if you should be pursuing such a claim.


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