The Rebound Indiana is a new initiative from WRTV to help you navigate the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are your source to find all of the information you need on the help that’s available and how to access those resources. We are focused on helping you find employment, make ends meet, manage the pressure of these unprecedented times, and ensure these programs work as promised. Visit theINDYchannel.com/rebound for more information.
INDIANAPOLIS— As Indiana’s economy begins to reopen and many people head back to work, some are scared to return because of COVID-19— especially those with underlying health conditions.
On Wednesday night, RTV6 held the Rebound Indiana Virtual Town Hall with the Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic and discussed topics ranging from stimulus checks to evictions and foreclosures, as well as unemployment.
Lael Hill, a social worker, is one of hundreds of people who participated in our town hall.
“We are serving families and people impacted by COVID-19 and they have questions and they’re in crisis,” Hill said. “They don’t know how they’re going to pay their rent.”
Hill’s question in our town hall was about a 65-year old client who has diabetes and is scared to go back to work.
"He's said I have to go back to work, because if I don't I’ll no longer get unemployment, but I'm 65 and I have diabetes and if I go back to work, am I going to catch this illness and die," Hill said.
For the most part, Indiana workers can not get unemployment if they feel unsafe going back to work because of COVID-19.
Stephanie Caraway, a staff attorney at the Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic, said there are 10 categories of situations for people to qualify for COVID-19 unemployment benefits.
Hill’s client may fall under number six: The individual is unable to reach the place of employment because the individual has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19;
- The individual has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
- A member of the individual’s household has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
- The individual is providing care for a family member or a member of the individual’s household who has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
- A child or other person in the household for which the individual has primary caregiving responsibility is unable to attend school or another facility that is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency and such school or facility care is required for the individual to work;
- The individual is unable to reach the place of employment because of a quarantine imposed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency;
- The individual is unable to reach the place of employment because the individual has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19;
- The individual was scheduled to commence employment and does not have a job or is unable to reach the job as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency;
- The individual has become the breadwinner or major support for a household because the head of the household has died as a direct result of COVID-19;
- The individual has to quit his or her job as a direct result of COVID-19; or,
- The individual’s place of employment is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
"You do have to be available for work if you're called back by your employer," Caraway said. “However, if you are at high risk such as lung disease high blood pressure, I think the best course of action is to contact your physician and have you physician write a letter or produce a medical record so you can send those to the Department of Workforce Development to explain why you're not able to go back to work yet."
The Occupational Safety and Health Act also gives workers the right to refuse to work if they believe workplace conditions could cause them serious imminent harm, however, it’s a high standard to meet.
You can file a complaint with IOSHA if you feel your working conditions in Indiana are unsafe.
The Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic says the number one thing they want people to realize is you do not have to go through this crisis alone.
Reach out to NCLC, 211 or another agency for help.
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“Community organizations like ours exist to provide services to you, so don’t hesitate to ask for help when you need it,” said NCLC senior staff attorney Chase Haller.
You can call the clinic at 877-836-0730 or visit its website here.