Unemployment Insurance…. Seriously??

Mokono COVID-19, Government Agencies, Small Business Leave a Comment

Names have been changed to protect the guilty… 🙂

It is starting to feel like we have to be making this up, there is no way that we could possibly be running into so many issues at every turn. Nope, we don’t lie, we don’t embellish (unless we tell you we are) and we only tell you what went down, and how it went down.

COVID hit the US and although we did not have to shut down our retail store (Changing Spaces), retail sales dropped off about 75% in one week and there was no end to the decline in sight. Fortunately, we saw the writing on the wall before we saw the dip in sales, so we proactively laid off all but 1 employee. We needed to stop the hemorrhaging of cash fast and let everyone know that we would bring folks back as soon as we could. We also told everyone we would contact them by phone/text (as usual) when that time came. Everyone agreed.

We obviously didn’t deny any of the claims for unemployment as the government advised we would not be held accountable for the unemployed and the unemployed were going to be given additional monies by the government to help them through this tough time. You remember the whole “we’re all in this together” line we all bought.

Now fast forward 4 weeks and we were ready to bring a couple of people back and reopen the store. Bill responded to our text and came back immediately. John however did not respond so we assumed he found another job and this was our loss since we couldn’t bring him back sooner.

2 weeks later, Bill runs into John and John states he received our offer but he does not plan on going back to work because he is making more on unemployment than he is if he came back to work. Wait…. what?? John also acknowledged that he wasn’t going to contact us. Mind you, John’s hourly rate is 38% above minimum wage – more than the owners are paid.

That’s right, THANKS GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS! Because you understand business better than us mere mortals in the trenches each day, you actually cost us an employee, literally. You incentivized a once-productive employee into staying home and living off the government instead of being a productive member of society. This is a perfect example of why socialism never works. John is perfectly capable of working. John knows the right thing to do is work. John does not have the moral foundation or long term vision to understand that his choice to not work is wrong and harms all of us collectively as a society.

We then contacted the Worker’s Comp folks and let them know that we reached out to our employee to offer employment but John chose not to respond and that he was purposefully not responding. We carefully walked through the situation with the Worker’s Comp rep because we have heard horror stories from other employers about how difficult these claims can be. We all agreed that since John refused to come back to work, he was no longer eligible for unemployment. We filed the appropriate paperwork, including copies of our text message and moved on. We thought that would be the end of it but…

Fast forward to June 18th and we get a call from a different Worker’s Comp rep wanting to know exactly what our text said, because John is fighting the claim that we offered him his job back. Mind you, John never got in touch with us once he was told by Bill or Worker’s Comp that we had a job for him; instead he chose to fight to get his unemployment benefits back. This is a perfect example of why the government should not incentivize people to not work.

Ummm ok, we already covered all of this with our representative weeks ago. The new rep was just outright rude. I covered everything again with her and she informs me that my responsibility as a business owner is to send John a certified letter offering him his job back and then wait as long as it takes to get his response. Never mind that we are trying to run a business and already moved on from John. I inform the rep that John told Bill he received the offer but then changed his phone and address…so how was I supposed to get a hold of him? I am told no matter what, it is my responsibility to chase this guy down, present him an offer and wait as long as he needs to give me a response.

I don’t know why government workers have such disdain for small businesses and their owners. My partners and I are honest and above-board in all of our dealings and we don’t associate with people who chose to behave otherwise. But it was made clear to me by the Worker’s Comp rep that we are the villains here and shame on us for not expending copious amounts of effort on bringing this guy back to work. Never mind that we are working 80+ hours each week to keep the business afloat during this crazy time. Never mind that neither my partners nor I are not eligible for unemployment or other government “free” money. Never mind that we are trying to make our community better for everyone. Never mind that we want to work with people who know right from wrong.

Naturally it doesn’t matter that we are good people with solid standing in the community or that John is not. We were punished by the Worker’s Comp rep for reporting John’s flagrant abuse of the system. Just another day in the life of a small business owner during the “pandemic”.

About the Author


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *