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July 15, 2020

North Dakota reinstates requirement for individuals to register and search for work while collecting UI benefits

North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum's Executive Order 2020-08.2 reinstates, effective July 26, 2020, the requirement that individuals collecting UI benefits register for work with Job Services North Dakota (JSND) and actively search for work, even if those benefits are directly or indirectly linked to COVID-19. (News release, North Dakota Job Services, 7-9-2020.)

Note, however, that under the order, and as confirmed by a JSND agency representative, contributory employers continue to not be charged for UI benefits directly or indirectly attributable to COVID-19. (Email response to inquiry, 7-14-2020.)

As we previously reported, the requirement to search for work while collecting COVID-19 UI benefits has been suspended since March 13, 2020. (EY Payroll Newsflash Vol. 21, #196, 4-27-2020.)

On the North Dakota Response website, employers are instructed to call JSND at +1 701 328 2814 to report a worker's refusal to return to work. JSND will determine, on a case-by-case basis, whether workers who do not return to work because they feel unsafe or are at higher risk due to underlying medical conditions may continue to collect UI benefits.

According to the agency's FAQs on COVID-19:

Q: What if a business opens but an employee doesn't feel safe coming back to work? Are there any protections for them if they don't feel safe returning to work?

A: Under theOccupational Safety and Health Act(OSHA), employees may refuse work if they "reasonably believe they are in imminent danger." That fear typically includes the threat of death or serious physical harm. Generalized fear about the virus, that's not based on fact, would not likely be sufficient to refuse to work. However, if the workplace currently has a number of confirmed cases of COVID-19, their fears may be justified.

For workers who are at higher risk for negative outcomes if they contract COVID-19, such as those with underlying medical conditions or workers who are immunocompromised, even generalized fears may be legitimate. Businesses should work with these staff members to alter the work environment as much as possible to mitigate risk, if they can.

For more information on JSND's response to COVID-19, go here.


Contact Information
For additional information concerning this Alert, please contact:
Workforce Tax Services - Employment Tax Advisory Services
   • Kenneth Hausser (
   • Debera Salam (
   • Kristie Lowery (
   • Peter Berard (


EY Payroll News Flash