COVID-19 & the Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development’s Stance on Work Refusals

By May 27, 2020COVID-19

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development advises that individuals must be willing and able to work to receive unemployment benefits. The state notes that individuals who refuse to return to work when there is available employment could potentially disqualify the individuals from unemployment benefits. Therefore, any associate who was impacted by COVID-19 and is available to work, may not qualify for unemployment benefits should they refuse to work after employer recall.

The below requirements will need to be met to be eligible for benefits:

  • You are diagnosed with COVID-19 or show COVID-19 symptoms (and seeking diagnosis).
  • A household member is diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • You provide care to a family member, or household member, that was diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • You are the primary caregiver to a child whose school or care facility closed due to COVID-19.
  • You are unable to reach your place of employment due to imposed quarantine or are advised to self-quarantine by a medical provider due to COVID-19.
  • You were scheduled to start new employment and cannot reach them due to COVID-19.
  • You became the breadwinner because the head of household died from COVID-19.
  • You quit your job as a direct result of COVID-19.
  • Your place of employment closed as a direct result of COVID-19.
  • You meet the additional criteria specified by the US Secretary of Labor.

Employers can notify the state of work refusals here: More information can be found on the state’s website at


Our office will monitor COVID-19 updates closely and will send out additional announcements as we become aware of any updates. You can also review these updates on our website at too.

Please reach out to your representative with any questions.



Mike Parker

Author Mike Parker

Mike has 30 years of experience in unemployment cost control management, and has been with Thomas & Company for 25 years. He is the primary contact with state agencies building strong relationships, lobbying for opportunities that increase quality of service and efficiencies, and insuring compliance with state specific requirements. He works with the client service team, answering technical questions related to the unemployment insurance programs administered by the individual states and oversees the processes associated with wage audits and fraudulent claim inquiries. Mike is a member of the SIDES Operations Committee and currently sits on four Operations Committee subcommittees.

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