FORT MYERS — Starting next week, people collecting unemployment will have to start proving that they’re looking for work, and if they get a job offer, they have to take it.
According to CareerSource in Fort Myers, that even applies to companies that aren’t taking precautions against COVID-19.
“No such legislation has been passed, so the employer is not required to provide those safety measures," said CareerSource Communications Manager Janeth Castrejon.
As of right now, Governor DeSantis isn’t making those employers follow CDC guidelines.
“To put police and criminal penalties on that is something that is going to backfire," said DeSantis in a press conference on June 27th.
Castrejon says that means, if people get a job offer, they have to take it.
“You could be jeopardizing your unemployment benefits, absolutely, if you do not decide to go back to work," said Castrejon.
So for many people trying to get back to work next week, Castrejon said they could be faced with a tough choice.
“It’s very difficult when it comes to trying to balance a position between the health of yourself and your loved ones, and then the ability to bring income and have a job," said Castrejon.
But we also spoke with employment attorney Ryan Barack, who had a very different viewpoint.
"Employers have an obligation to provide a safe working environment, and if the employee can’t perform their duties in a safe manner, then they’re not required to take that job. And if CareerSource is telling people that, they’re wrong," said Barack.
Barack said he believes, under rules laid out by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, workers should not have to accept a job that does not mandate that their employees either work from home or wear masks in the workplace. Barack said CareerSource’s view highlights a problem that only the state government can solve.
“The legislature should fix this. The Governor should fix this. If there is any ambiguity that these people think is out there, they can resolve that ambiguity with a simple executive order, or by the legislature going into special session," said Barack.
Some counties have put their own mask ordinances in place, but in Lee and Collier counties, that’s not the case.
The work search requirement officially goes back into effect this Saturday, unless Governor DeSantis decides to extend the deadline again.