Red states extending unemployment benefits for fired unvaccinated workers

Paul Sakuma

While this issue still hasn’t impacted a significant percentage of the national workforce, various vaccine mandates have led to the dismissal or forced resignation of workers who declined to comply and get vaccinated. This is a significant financial issue for many families because the rules regarding unemployment benefits make many workers ineligible if they either quit or are terminated for cause. In response to this, four states – Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, and Tennessee – had already passed laws making such workers eligible for benefits, with extensions offered in some cases. Now a fifth state has joined the list. Iowa will now allow those who lose their jobs because of a vaccine mandate to apply for and receive unemployment benefits. But not everyone is happy about this. (The Gazette)


At least five Republican-led states including Iowa have extended unemployment benefits to people who’ve lost jobs over vaccine mandates, and a smattering of others may soon follow.

Workers who quit or are fired for cause — including for defying company policy — are generally ineligible for claiming jobless benefits. But Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Kansas and Tennessee have carved out exceptions for those who won’t submit to the coronavirus vaccine regimens that many companies now require. Similar ideas have been floated in Wyoming, Wisconsin and Missouri.

The changes are among other state measures seeking to curtail what detractors say is President Joe Biden’s overreach into health care decisions.

It shouldn’t come as any surprise that all but one of the states offering this sort of protection have Republican governors. (Kansas has a Democratic governor but the GOP controls the legislature. It’s complicated.) At this point, the entire question of vaccine mandates has become completely politicized, so the blue states want to punish or starve those who refuse to comply while the red states seek to take care of them.

Normally I would be opposed to these exceptions being made in terms of eligibility for benefits because unemployment should be an apolitical service. But the battle lines have clearly been drawn at this point and we really aren’t living in “normal” times. There is a difference between someone who simply quits their position after submitting a “take this job and shove it” letter to their boss and someone who “quits” because the government said they can’t remain employed unless they agree to a medical procedure they do not wish to undergo. As far as being terminated “for cause,” that’s generally been understood to apply to workers who lose their jobs because of performance issues or illegal activity. In this case, the “cause” in question was created by the government, not the employee.


As I mentioned above, the new rules that have been put in place by these five states have liberals up in arms, particularly at the Daily KOS. Community member Dan K blames GOP-led states for offering to “pay people not to get vaccinated.”

Republican-controlled states are so committed to letting their citizens stay unvaccinated that they will pay you if you get fired for refusing the jab.

No word on whether they will cover hospital and funeral costs.

This is, of course, a load of what the current president would call malarkey. The governors of all five of those states have “encouraged” everyone to go out and get vaccinated, while not wanting them to be forced to do so against their will. They are not offering any sort of incentive to talk people out of getting the shots. What they are doing is offering the same sort of financial backup to people who lose their jobs because of a government mandate that would be received by those who were jobless because of a government-ordered shutdown.

But don’t let that distinction bother you. If you’re really that upset about states offering these sorts of protections, don’t sign up for them. But if you’re going to go all apoplectic over it, please be sure to record yourself on TikToc so we can all watch.

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