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Laid off by struggling company and may be asked to come back

by Melody
(Raleigh, NC, Wake County)

From NC

I was laid off a few months ago by a retail store that is struggling badly to stay open. I was there for five years and watched the steady decline, the last year was spent wondering when they would announce the closure. While struggling to stay open, they have laid off more than half the staff.

My former boss called me today to give me a heads up that I might be called to take a sales position since one of the employees put in his notice and they will be short a sales person. If they decide they can afford to hire someone to take his spot, I may be called since I was the last person in the last wave to be laid off.

Now, the pay will probably be a lot less because I left as a manager and would come back as sales staff (less than my tiny unemployment check). But my main concern is the company itself. My boss admitted business is doing no better and they have not even ordered new merchandise in five months even though they have very little merchandise in stock. He told me things were not looking good at all and the struggle has gotten worse. I don't want to accept the position if offered because the store is headed toward closing down. I fear being laid off again from the same company in a matter of months. But I cannot afford to lose the already small unemployment check I am making if I turn the position down. What recourse do I have to make sure I don't drown? Is there a way to turn
the job down and convince the unemployment agency that it was for the best since I'll be unemployed again in a few months?

Hi Melody,

I think my only concern would be whether refusing the job on the basis that it is not "suitable work" and risking a denial from future benefits in case of another layoff, is all I would be worried about right now.

I might also consider whether the position is part-time and would allow me to collect partial benefits .. because this could actually be a factor if you're simply worried about earning less that your weekly benefits and actually help you to bring in just a bit more since most partial unemployment benefit formulas first disregard a certain amount of your earnings to calculate the partial benefit. (try the search bar and type in "partial unemployment" .. I have links to the Doleta chartbook with the formulas for all states.

As far as what is suitable work in North Carolina. This publication from North Carolina Unemployment might help you figure out if you have any grounds to refuse the job because of one of the conditions that may effect the suitability to you and your prior experience and training.

I do suggest that you tread very carefully and make any decision to refuse the offer just as carefully to avoid a denial even if you think you could win on appeal.

Sometimes .. we just have to do, what we just have to do, to protect ourselves from any period of time we might have to spend without the aid of unemployment benefits .. while waiting for a hearing to get the benefits back.

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