Refusing work offers
You may be denied unemployment benefits if you decline an offer for suitable work.
You are required to report any offers of work that you declined when submitting claims and have a good cause reason not to accept suitable work.
• Suitable work is in line with your prior training, work experience, education, health, safety and morals.
• Good cause is established when you have a personal and compelling reason for refusing an offer of work.
• Fraudulent claims happen when you knowingly withhold information, including a refusal of work, when claiming benefits.
Individuals reporting an offer of work
You must report when you turn down an offer of work, for any reason, on your weekly unemployment claim. However, if you have a “good cause” reason for turning it down, benefits may still be available.
We will send you a questionnaire via mail or eServices. Examples of some of the questions are:
- What was the reason for refusing the offer of work?
- What date was the offer of work made?
- What method was the offer made? (by phone, email or a letter)
- Did you qualify for the type of work offered?
If you are receiving benefits at the time you decline an offer of work, we will continue to conditionally pay weekly benefits while determining your continued eligibility for unemployment benefits. We will collect ineligible benefits if we later determine that you were not eligible.
Employers receiving a refusal of work
We will contact you to determine if a claimant reporting a declined job offer is still eligible for unemployment benefits. You may proactively contact us via eServices to report a work refusal. This guide will walk you through the process of finding and completing the online Refusal of Work form.
You will be asked to provide:
- Name & Social Security number of the employee.
- Date of job offer.
- Who made the job offer and their title.
- Details of the job offer (position, location, wages, hours, etc.).
- Method of the job offer (phone, email, text, etc.).
- Contact information for the employer (your business).
- The employee’s response.
You should provide the rate of pay, hours, start date, schedule, location and any other relevant details when making a return-to-work offer to employees. We will use this information to determine whether the work offered is suitable. While job offers may be made verbally by phone or in person, written return-to-work offers are preferable to establish a clear date for and description of the offer made.
We consider work "suitable” when it’s in line with your prior training, work experience and education. When offered work, you should ask yourself:
- Do I have the experience to perform the work?
- Other than on the job training, do I need to have more training or education to be able to do the work?
- Have I done this type of work before?
We will also consider the degree of risk involved to your health, safety and morals in determining whether work is suitable. During a public health emergency, we will also consider the degree of risk the job offer would have on the health of those residing with you.
For employers: If you offer a former employee an opportunity to return to work, the working conditions, wages earned and hours worked by the employee must be similar to those previously provided.
Work is not considered suitable when there is a “good cause” reason for refusing an offer of work. “Good cause” can be established if it’s shown that you had a personal and compelling reason for refusing the offer of work.
- You are 65 and older or considered high risk by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) during a public health emergency.
- You are living with someone who is considered high risk.
- The worksite is not safe.
While you could have a good cause to decline suitable work, some reasons will cause us to question your availability for work.
You can’t turn down work and retain benefits for reasons such as:
- You make more on unemployment than you would at the job offered.
- You don’t want to work.
- You are nervous about returning to work, but do not have another accepted reason to refuse.
- You don’t like the job offered even though it is suitable work.
- You want to change careers.
- You are in school.
Washington employers must follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state Department of Labor and Industries and the Washington State Department of Health requirements and guidance to maintain a safe workplace.
If you refuse an offer of work due to a workplace safety concern, we will evaluate if the workplace conditions were safe. Information from both claimants and employers, as well as state and federal safety regulations, are considered.
Work is not considered to be suitable if the employer is unwilling or unable to provide a safe workplace, as required by state or federal law and guidance. Employers have the responsibility to prove that workplaces are safe and in compliance with appropriate workplace safety laws and guidance.
Anyone filing weekly claims must truthfully attest whether they received an offer to return to work. When you notify us that you received an offer to return to work, we will ask you and the employer questions to determine if you’re still eligible for unemployment benefits. It is considered fraud if you knowingly withhold information, including if you refuse a job offer.
Consequences for a fraudulent claim
Intentionally failing to report correct work and earnings, availability for work, or the reason for separation can result in a denial of benefits, repayment of benefits, financial penalties and possible criminal prosecution.
Filing an appeal
Both employers and workers have the right to file an appeal if you disagree with the decision we made regarding an employee’s unemployment benefits. Examples of decisions you can appeal might include:
- Whether an individual had a good cause reason to refuse an offer of work.
- Whether an offer of work was suitable.
- Whether a claim is fraudulent.
Learn more about benefit appeals and how to submit them.