HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) — The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) announced it is stopping its job refusal guidance put into place during the pandemic.
TWC allowed people to keep unemployment benefits if they refused work due to COVID-19 concerns. This was done on a case-by-case basis for reasons such as age, medical issues, or trouble finding child care.
TWC is stopping this policy due to widespread vaccine availability.
“Somebody applies for a job, presumably they’re willing to accept, and the only reason they turn down an offer is because of a COVID risk, then the vaccine is available. It’s also available for their family members,” said Dr. Maroula Khraiche, an economics professor at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV).
This comes as Texas prepares to stop federal COVID-19 unemployment benefits later this month.
Governor Greg Abbott has expressed his desire to get more Texans to return to work, but the future is still uncertain.
“It’s hard to compare it to a normal recovery because it’s not a normal recession, so it is really a wait-and-see basis, and we can only see what’s going to happen in the next month or two,” said Khraiche.
COVID-19 cases are dropping, so it is safer to return to work than it was earlier in the year. However, the pandemic is still here, and people are still being affected.
“Still people are getting hospitalized, and almost universally, all of those people who are getting hospitalized sick with COVID have not been vaccinated,” said Dr. James Castillo, Cameron County Health Authority.
With the state of Texas wanting employees to return to work, and vaccines widely available for months, doctors say now is the time to get the vaccine if you’ve been waiting.
“Keep people aware that, yes, the vaccine is more convenient, it’s available, it’s effective, but you need to get it for it to actually work,” said Castillo.