LANSING, Mich. — With unemployment benefits under the CARES Act paying $600 per week, returning to work can mean taking a pay cut. The national economic council director says the white house is considering a "back to work" cash bonus to encourage unemployed workers to take back their jobs, or find new ones.
Alexa Liacko spoke with business owners and staff about the struggle to get employees back to work.
Hailey Roberts is a server at Reivers Bar and Grill, "I’m super excited to come back to work."
Roberts is eager to see tables at Reiver’s bar full again. "Just to get back to normal, to get a schedule."
But, she’s worried getting ‘back to 'normal’ will come with a cost "I just hope when I come back it’ll be busy enough that i’ll be making close to what I was when i was on unemployment."
Roberts qualified for unemployment in March after the restaurant closed, and was surprised to find, "it actually helped me a lot." "I would just wake up in the morning and be like oh wow, I have a lot in my bank account!"
Under the CARES aAct, those who lost jobs because of COVID-19 can receive an addition $600 per week on top of usual employment benefits that cash is helping Roberts towards a longtime goal, "I’m going to use that money to put towards a car," and she’s not the only one seeing extra green.
A study from the University of Chicago found two-thirds of workers are making more money on unemployment than they did while working.
Restaurant group owner Dan Shipp says that fact has made re-opening a challenge. "After 10 weeks, most of them are like yeah, I’m ready to come back, but you do have a few who are like, ‘yeah, I'’m not ready to come back for a few weeks, and what they’re trying to do, they’re trying to get more unemployment."
Roberts says staying home to help her own financial situation was tempting, "I definitely thought about it." "I don’t really think you can do that because that’s not what unemployment is about, so I don’t think its ok, necessarily."
Employment expert Johnny C. Taylor Jr., President of the Society for Human Resource Management says employees could lose their benefits—and their job if they refuse to return when their position is offered back.
"I caution people about demanding how the employer is going to conduct his business, if they demand you have come back to work, you gotta come back to work."
In a time where more than 40-million Americans are searching for work, Shipp says he’d like to re-hire his staff, but he may be forced to replace them. "We said look everyone is coming back, if you don’t come back, i can’t promise you there’ll be a job."
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