Idaho Offers $1,500 to Unemployed if They to Return to Work


Idahoans out of work due to the coronavirus pandemic may be eligible for up to $1,500 in cash when they rejoin the workforce as part of an effort by Gov. Brad Little to encourage the state's economic rebound.

Under Little's proposal, qualified applicants will receive a one-time payment of $1,500 for full-time employees and $750 for part-time employees upon returning to work. Payments will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis, up to $100 million.

Up to 60% of Americans currently claiming state unemployment benefits are making more than they would if they returned to their pre-pandemic jobs, according to a press release from Little's office.

This is largely owing to the implementation of enhanced benefits for those who lost jobs due to COVID-19, adding $600 extra to unemployment payments each week in most cases. Those enhanced benefits are set to expire next month.

"A strong economic rebound cannot occur without workers returning to a job, and the new Return to Work cash bonuses incentivize our workforce to get back to work safely," Little said in a statement.

Funding for the bonuses comes from Idaho's portion of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a federal bill intended to address economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic and related shutdowns.

Eligibility requirements for the payments have not yet been finalized, said Marissa Morrison Hyer, spokeswoman for Little's office. The Idaho Development Workforce Council and Little's Coronavirus Financial Advisory Committee will finalize requirements in the coming days.

To apply for the program, workers must have filed an unemployment claim since March 1, even those who have returned to a job since then, Hyer said.

Requirements and application materials will be posted to by June 15.

Hyer said the program will apply both to those returning to pre-pandemic jobs and starting new jobs.

Unemployment claimants who do not return to work when their employers' businesses reopenmay risk losing their benefits, according to the Idaho Department of Labor's website.

Such instances will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis to determine if a claimant has good cause to turn down work, including verification of the employer's safety measures and the employee's degree of interaction with the public, the website said.

Nearly all Idaho businesses that closed due to COVID-19 now have been able to reopen to some degree under the state's phased Idaho Rebounds program, according to Little's press release.