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It's official: Fear of coronavirus not an accepted reason for refusing to return to work


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Mike Osborne) -- The Tennessee Department of Labor is again warning workers they could lose pandemic jobless benefits if they refuse to return to work.


State Labor Commissioner Jeff McCord in April assured workers they would not lose benefits if they feared returning to work might mean contracting coronavirus. One week later, McCord walked that statement back.


On Monday, the department released a list of acceptable virus related reasons for staying off the job. They include a pending virus test result, a COVID-19 diagnosis, or caring for a virus positive family member.


Fear of contracting the virus at work is not one of the listed excuses.


Here's the full list of acceptable reasons coronavirus might keep you from returning to your job:


  • Are diagnosed with COVID-19 or have COVID-19 symptoms and are seeking diagnosis;
  • Have a member of the household who is diagnosed with COVID-19;
  • Are providing care for a family or household member diagnosed with COVID-19;
  • Are the primary caregiver for a child whose school or care facility closed, due to COVID-19;
  • Are unable to reach their place of employment due to an imposed quarantine, or because advised by a medical provider to self-quarantine, due to COVID-19;
  • Were scheduled to start new employment and cannot reach the workplace as a direct result of COVID-19;
  • Became the major breadwinner because the head of household died from COVID-19;
  • Quit their job as a direct result of COVID-19;
  • Had their place of employment closed as a direct result of COVID-19; or
  • Meet any additional criteria specified by U.S. Secretary of Labor


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