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Going Back to Work if you Make More on Unemployment

With businesses starting to reopen, many Americans are receiving phone calls from their employers that it’s time to go back to work. For many, the decision seems easy (thanks to the CARES Act enhanced unemployment benefits).

“Why would I go back to work when I make more on unemployment?” 

It may not even be about the money – quite frankly, the fear of being exposed to COVID-19 or having a lack of child care are very real concerns as well. We understand. However, the decision might be a little more difficult than that. 

Here are a few things to keep in mind when you get that call to go back to work: 

Expanded Unemployment Benefits Only Last So Long

More than 33 million Americans have filed for unemployment since mid-march. These workers receive an additional $600 per week under the coronavirus stimulus bill for now, as the benefit will end July 31st. As of August 1st, benefits will return to the normal amount, which is around 40-45% of your previous income. 

According to Forbes, “Many experts predict the labor market to be tight through the end of the summer and potentially into the fall and winter quarters.” This makes it even more crucial to plan ahead and take advantage of employment opportunities before the expanded unemployment benefits run out. 

You May Disqualify Yourself From Unemployment

If your previous job is offered, you’re required to accept to avoid being disqualified from unemployment. The exceptions? If there are major changes to your previous job, or you decline because of a reason related to coronavirus. (For example, you need to care for a sick family member at home.) Beyond those reasons, declining a job offer could result in a loss of unemployment benefits. 

You May Lose Employer Benefits

Employees who are furloughed still have access to their healthcare and retirement benefits, however, if an employee declines their offer to go back – those benefits will end. Alternatively, employees would have to extend their health insurance through COBRA or purchase a plan on the healthcare marketplace under a special enrollment period.

Something to keep in mind: 

Employees who are working part-time are still eligible to receive the $600 federal benefit through July. To learn more, head here.

At the end of the day, it’s understandable to question whether or not you should return to work. As Catherine Brock from The Motley Fool says in her article, “While there’s no way to predict how the economy will respond in the next three or six months, it’s highly likely that the employment picture will be unpleasant for the rest of the year. If going back to work now insulates you from a dreary job market later, it may just be worth it — assuming you take the appropriate steps to stay safe and healthy.” 

With all this being said, we’re not here to scare or shame, as we understand every individual needs to make the best decision for themselves and their family. But, we do want you to know that we’re here for you through any decision you make. 

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