High-risk? No child care? You can get unemployment benefits and not return to work, TWC guidance says


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Ahead of “Phase 1” — Texas’ plan to slowly and incrementally reopen businesses Friday — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced new guidance from the Texas Workforce Commission Thursday that should keep “vulnerable” populations on unemployment if they decide not to return to work.

“This flexibility in the unemployment benefit process will help ensure that Texans with certain health and safety concerns will not be penalized for choosing not to return to work,” Gov. Abbott said.

Under the TWC’s guidance, unemployment benefits would still be granted if:

  • You or a household member are considered high-risk, typically those 65 years and older.
  • You or a family/household member are diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • If you’re currently in a 14-day quarantine because of exposure to COVID-19.
  • You have no alternatives for child care because your child’s school and/or day care closed.

The governor reiterated that any other situation would be based on a “case-by-case” TWC review.

“We’re not going to cut people off because you didn’t accept suitable employment, we’re going to look at each of those situations on a case-by-case basis,” TWC Executive Director Ed Serna told KXAN’s Tom Miller Wednesday.

After Gov. Abbott’s announcement Thursday, Texas Democratic Party spokesman Abhi Rahman criticized Abbott for not implementing the steps sooner.

“Abbott’s overlooking of the elderly who can no longer seek unemployment benefits was yet another example of how he’s utterly mismanaged the crisis and botched the gradual reopening of Texas business,” Rahman said.

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