I have made some changes in the way we do business due to the current environment. Can an employee refuse to return to work due to the changes and get benefits?
An employee may be eligible to receive unemployment benefits if there is a substantial change in the contract of hire (including wage level, type of work, and required skills) and they quit their position.
For example, if you significantly reduce their pay, permanently change their assigned shift without their agreement, move them to a new facility with a substantially longer commute, or make other drastic modifications to the type of work for which you hired them, this would constitute a substantial change in the contract of hire.
However, minor changes, such as moving them to a new line, requiring only one or two extra hours of work a day, or changing their work location in the same facility, likely would not constitute a change in the contract of hire, and they would not be eligible for unemployment benefits.
The definition of “substantial” is fact-specific and is determined on a case-by-case basis.