COVID-19 and return to work

Businesses are starting to reopen in New Mexico. If you’ve been off work because your employer shut down because of COVID-19, you may be called back to work soon.

If you’re receiving unemployment and are called back, you probably have to return to work even if your unemployment is more than your wage. If you have questions about unemployment, go to the New Mexico Workforce Solutions website at https://www.dws.state.nm.us/en-us for answers.

If you you have a medical condition, such as a compromised immune system, that puts you at risk if you are forced to return to work, you may be able to refuse the job offer and continue to receive unemployment benefits. However, you must get a note from your doctor stating that you should not return to work because of your medical condition and what the medical condition is. If you feel you are in this category, you need to get this documentation ASAP. Once again, start with the Workforce Solutions website if you have questions.

Businesses that are reopening must ensure a safe environment for their employees and their customers. If you are called back to work, you have a right to ask your employer how it will ensure your safety. If you are not satisfied with the answer, you have a right to raise your concerns with your employer in a civil and respectful way. If nothing changes, you have a difficult choice to make. I’m not sure what State agency is enforcing the safety requirements for the businesses that are reopening, but I would start with Workforce Solutions and the State Department of Health.

We all want to get back to our normal lives, but workers should not be asked to take unnecessary risks to do that.