By Alan Rauss & Alexis Preskar

In a new executive order, Governor Mike DeWine clarified the requirements for Ohioans who seek to remain on unemployment because of coronavirus concerns. As businesses begin to reopen, the order states that applicants may not remain on unemployment if their employer has offered their same position back. However, applicants may stay on unemployment if they:

  1. Produce a medical professional’s recommendation that they do not return to work because they are at a high risk of contracting COVID-19 because of a condition detailed by the CDC and teleworking is not available.
  2. Are over the age of 65.
  3. Present “tangible” evidence of a health or safety violation by the employer that does not allow the employee to comply with social distancing, wearing PPE or the like.
  4. Show that they have potentially been exposed to COVID-19 and have been ordered to quarantine by a medical professional.
  5. Provide proof they are staying at home to take care of a relative with COVID-19 or in quarantine. This exception notably does not apply to a general need to stay home and take care of relatives, including children.

The typical requirement that applicants must search for work is still waived.

Based on this guidance, if an employee refuses to return from unemployment, employers should ask the employee to provide the reason for refusal in writing so the employer can evaluate whether it meets any of these exceptions.

KJK continues to monitor the state’s orders on unemployment and other rules that impact employers. If you have questions on how to handle the transition back to onsite work, please contact Alan Rauss (, 216.736.7221), Rob Gilmore (, 216.736.7240), Alexis Preskar (, 614.427.5748) or any of KJK’s Labor & Employment professionals.