Texas Unemployment Insurance Update: TWC Lists Valid Reasons for Refusing Work Amid COVID-19 

May 1, 2020

On Thursday, April 30, 2020, the Texas Workforce Commission issued a critical update to its unemployment insurance benefits guidelines, providing employers and unemployed workers insight into the various reasons that workers can give to legitimately turn down available work amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Although the TWC makes clear that each case will be evaluated on an individual basis, they provided a list of specific reasons that workers can give for refusing to return to work when it becomes available and continue to receive unemployment benefits to which they are otherwise eligible:

  • At High Risk — People 65 years or older are at a higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19 (Source DSHS website).
  • Household member at high risk.
  • Diagnosed with COVID-19 — the individual has tested positive for COVID-19 by a source authorized by the state of Texas and is not recovered.
  • Family member with COVID-19 — anybody in the household has tested positive for COVID-19 by a source authorized by the state of Texas and is not recovered and 14 days have not yet passed.
  • Quarantined — individual is currently in 14-day quarantine due to close contact exposure to COVID-19.
  • Child care — Child’s school or daycare closed and no alternatives are available.

The TWC adds that “[a]ny other situation will be subject to a case-by-case review by the Texas Workforce Commission based on individual circumstances.”

Employers should take note of this list as it reflects a significant expansion of the valid bases that an unemployed worker can assert for remaining unemployed, while retaining their ability to collect unemployment benefits. Given this newly established leeway, and the expansion of certain unemployment benefits due to the enactment of the federal CARES act, businesses may see an uptick in employees turning down work.  

The TWC’s updated guidance can be accessed here


Adam C. Gutmann



(832) 214-3919

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