Marcia Hultman

Cabinet Secretary

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Reemployment Assistance Benefits

Refusal to Return to Work


Workers who have been placed on a temporary layoff related to COVID-19 but refuse to return to work when recalled by their employer will lose unemployment benefits, except for certain circumstances.

These exceptions include the following and may require documentation:

  • If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and are experiencing symptoms
  • If you have recovered but it caused medical complications making you unable to perform essential job duties
  • If a member of your household has been diagnosed with COVID-19
  • If you are providing care for a member of your household who was diagnosed with COVID-19
  • If you do not have childcare due to COVID-19 reasons
  • If you do not have transportation to your place of work because of COVID-19

NOTE: Being uncomfortable about returning to work when recalled is not an acceptable circumstance to decline work.

Not returning to work when there is available work could be considered a “refusal of work” or “voluntary quit” and potentially disqualify claimants from receiving reemployment assistance (unemployment insurance) benefits, including the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) benefit.


  • Workers in any of these scenarios are strongly encouraged to work with their employer to determine the best way to handle the situation to return to work.
  • Claimants should not cancel their claims. Instead, leave the claim open and do not file a weekly request for payment, in case you are laid off again.
  • A worker who is recalled on a part-time basis may continue to be eligible for partial benefits depending on the amount of wages earned. Continue filing weekly claims and report the gross wages earned each week.
  • The self-employed should continue to report their weekly net income and self-certify the reason they are not working as part of their continuing claims as they return to work.

DLR offers a vast variety of training and education programs that can help workers whose employment may be permanently affected by the outbreak. Tuition assistance is available for eligible individuals to secure a high-demand, high-wage career upon completion. Registered Apprenticeships also provide flexible on-the-job training paired with classroom instruction in many industries.


Businesses should use the Employer Reporting Refusal of Suitable Work form to report employees who refuse to return to work without good reason or who quit their jobs. (Open this form in an Adobe reader program to complete. Changes made in your internet browser will not save.) As soon as possible, email form to or mail to:

DLR RA Division
Attn: Benefits
P.O. Box 4730
Aberdeen, SD  57402-4730

The CARES Act specifically provides for serious consequences for fraudulent cases including fines, confinement and an inability to receive future unemployment benefits until all fraudulent claims and fines have been repaid. Individuals are responsible for paying back benefits deemed as overpayments due to ineligibility.

View our Employee Notice: Reemployment Assistance (Unemployment Insurance) Benefits Eligibility— COVID-19: Quitting without Good Cause/Refusal to Work.

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