CENTER – As Pennsylvanians across the state begin to return to work in accordance with the governor’s phased reopening plan, Rep. Josh Kail (R-Beaver/Washington) drafted legislation that would protect vulnerable workers and workers with vulnerable family members living in their homes.
The Vulnerable Workers Protection Act, House Bill 2557
, would amend the Unemployment Compensation Law to provide more clarity for claimants and employers about what constitutes good cause to refuse work or compelling cause to quit while remaining eligible for unemployment compensation (UC) benefits.
“While most of us can safely return to work, some people have legitimate safety concerns that should be taken into account. No one should have to choose between a paycheck and his or her health,” Kail said. “My bill would help to balance everyone’s safety with the need of the majority to return to work.”
A claimant would remain eligible for UC benefits if he or she provides documentation from a health care provider stating that he or she (or someone they live with) is at a substantially greater risk for serious medical complications from COVID-19. This would apply to claimants whose employer cannot offer work that does not require the employee to be close to others.
A claimant who suffered discrimination or retaliation as a result of informing the employer about the employer’s failure to comply with a state or federal workplace safety standards intended to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 would remain eligible for UC if they quit or refuse work because of the discrimination or retaliation.
However, claimants who quit or refuse to work without providing appropriate documentation of a medical condition or safety issue or attempting to communicate with the employer about a medical condition or workplace safety issue would be ineligible for UC.
Representative Joshua Kail
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Alison Evans