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ODJFS Takes Down "Fraud" Page, Says No Benefits Denied Because Of COVID-19

A "closed" sign is posted on a closed duckpin bowling alley and bar in downtown Columbus.
A "closed" sign is posted on a closed duckpin bowling alley and bar in downtown Columbus.

1.2 million Ohioans have filed jobless claims since mid-March. And as Ohio’s businesses reopen, workers are concerned about the availability of child care, the cleanliness of their workplaces and the safety of vulnerable family members as they go back to work. And the agency processing claims has seen that concern too.

Of the 28.5% of claims that have been denied as of Friday, May 22, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services said none have been because of COVID-19 related reasons such as lack of child care or concerns about virus protection in the workplace.

But ODJFS Director Kimberly Hall said just being afraid of getting sick isn’t a good reason to not go back to work if called to.

“You would need more. That would be evaluated on a case by case basis – more to establish the employer is not aligning with appropriate health and safety protocols, there’s a health condition, etc.," Hall said. "But fear itself, standing alone, is not to be sufficient.”

Hall said the agency is evaluating what criteria would apply specifically to refuse to return to work because of COVID-19.

The ODJFS website had a page that allowed employers to "report COVID-19 employee fraud", including not returning to work. That page has been taken down.

Copyright 2020 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.