Is it Legal?: Back on the job or working from home, questions answered

Is it legal for employees to refuse to work because they fear catching Covid-19?

If employees don’t want to return to work solely because they fear catching Covid-19—and aren’t sick, on protected leave, or disabled—then their employers most likely can fire them; and they will likely lose unemployment benefits.

However, there may be legal protections for employees facing safety and health violations at their employer.

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Is it legal to still receive more lucrative unemployment benefits even though work is available?

Some people make more money with their unemployment and stimulus benefits than they did working. However, these workers cannot continue receiving these benefits if work becomes available, according to Kimberly Lowe, a business attorney at Aviden Legal, P.A.

“Some people are saying, look, ‘I'm making more on unemployment plus my $600 stimulus or bump, so I'm not going back.’ Well, the same rules apply that always apply if you're on unemployment. If you have an opportunity to work and you choose not to, you're no longer eligible for unemployment,” Lowe told FOX 9.

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Is it legal for employees to write off costs from the period they worked at home?

Workers hoping to write off costs from working at home are likely out of luck—especially W-2 employees.

Tax law changes in 2017 prevent W-2 employees from deducting home office expenses.

The self-employed and independent contractors, however, can still make these deductions—so long as they were for the exclusive benefit of the business. Possibly a tough sell.

“I think a lot of people think, ‘well, I have to work from home and I'm using my dining room table. Well, can I somehow bifurcate that as my home office?’ Well, you already had a dining room table. Or if you have an exclusive home office, before this did you try to deduct your home office? Probably not,” said Lowe.