Workers who quit jobs to avoid potential exposure to COVID-19 will be eligible to collect unemployment benefits thanks to an executive order signed by President Joe Biden on Friday.
The White House issued a release in which it cited a Gallup Poll that found 43 percent of Americans lived in a household where at least one member had a preexisting condition, per Fox Business.
"The President is asking the Department of Labor to consider clarifying that workers have a federally guaranteed right to refuse employment that will jeopardize their health and if they do so, they will still qualify for unemployment insurance," the release said.
Workers usually can collect unemployment only if they were laid off or, in some situations, fired. In some other cases, workers who quit their job with "good cause” — such as unsafe work conditions, discrimination in the workplace, harassment, lack of payment, or change in job duties — could be eligible for benefits.
In his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief proposal, Biden suggested raising federal unemployment to $400 a week, up from the $300 that lawmakers approved in December. The higher unemployment benefits would be phased out over time depending on health and economic conditions.
Biden's proposal would extend the income support, set to end in March, through September 2021.
An additional 900,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits for the first time last week. That was nearly four times the pre-pandemic level but well below the high of almost 7 million reached when stay-at-home orders were first issued in March.
Among people continuing to receive unemployment benefits, there was a decline of about 127,000 from the previous week, down to 5.054 million.
Due to the CARES Act in March, aid to self-employed individuals, gig workers, and others who typically aren't eligible to receive benefits, as well as aid to those who have exhausted their state benefits, continue to help those in need.
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