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Important Information Regarding Federal Unemployment Benefits in Tennessee. Click Banner for Details.


This is an interactive PDF with topics listed at the top. You can click on the topic you have a question about and it will take you to the answer.

Employee Work Refusal 

If a Tennessee employer has an employee who refuses to return to work, and the employees does not meet specific COVID-related exemptions, the employer can notify the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development by filling out the form found in the tab below

Refusal of Suitable Work 

Tennessee law requires unemployment claimants to accept suitable work when offered by an employer or risk disqualification from the unemployment benefits program. If an employer notifies the agency an applicant who is receiving unemployment did not accept a job offer, the agency will investigate the allegation. TDLWD requires the employer to provide the name of the claimant, the job title refused, the job’s pay rate and the required job duties. 

Employer UI Contact Information

Are employees eligible for UI benefits if an employer "furloughs" them temporarily?

Yes, the employee should file his/her Current Employment Status as “Temporary Layoff with Recall”, as long as all other eligibility requirements are met. Their weekly benefit amount is determined based on wages earned in a 4-quarter based period.

I’m a small business owner who has had to shut down due to COVID-19. Am I eligible for UI?

Self-employed individuals impacted by COVID-19 may apply for benefits under the provisions of the American Rescue Plan Act.

If I have to temporarily or permanently close my business, what happens if I do not provide the state an employer-filed Partial/Employer-filed claim?

If you do not submit an employer-filed mass claim (also known as a partial claim), each of your employees will need to file individual claims which will take much longer to process. If you do not file an employer-filed claim, please provide each separate employee with a completed separation notice. You can find the fillable form through this link:

If I choose to file a Partial/Employer-filed claim what steps do I need to take?

This is the preferred method if your business has not yet closed and you believe you will reopen. If you are uncertain of a reopen date, enter 16 weeks from the date of filing. Employers provide a list of employee names and required information to file a claim on behalf of employees. Instruct employees not to file an individual claim and that they will need to certify each Sunday to be paid in a timely manner.

Here is a link with more information:

How do Employers obtain confirmation of successful Partial/Employer-filed claims?

All lists are effective on the date they are submitted. However, as you might expect, we are experiencing unprecedented numbers, and delays may be longer than usual. When an employer submits a spreadsheet to the email account, they receive an auto-response letting them know that it was received and they will be notified via email once it has been successfully uploaded.

If an employer doesn’t receive an email receipt after submitting their Partial/Employer filed claim, what do they need to do?

A confirmation email will be sent when complete.

Are Partial/Employer-Filed Claims Auto Approved?

Yes, as long as the employee did not file on their own, prior to the spreadsheet being uploaded.

Will the Partial/Employer filed claims to be backdated to the date they were submitted?


Does an employer need to respond to a Notice for Wage and Separation Request?

If the layoff was due to COVID-19, no, the employer does not need to respond. In fact, responding can delay the adjudication process for these claims. However, if the employee was separated from the employer for any other reason, yes, the employer should respond and provide the details of the separation so that our teams can properly adjudicate the claim.

Does an employer who gives a claimant a 1099 need to respond to a Notice for Wage and Separation Request if the claimant selected the employer as their separating employer when they filed their claim? If so, then how does an out of state employer with no SEIN respond?

Employers may (but are not required to) respond to claims filed by independent contractors. However, if the claim is approved and the employer is identified as the separating employer, the employer may file an appeal and raise that issue.

Will the benefit charges of approved claimants be charged to employers in their base period if the employer has had to close due to government mandate?

At the direction of the Commissioner, employer non-charges have been waived through March 14, 2021.

If employees are retained with only partial pay, are they eligible for UI benefits?

It depends on how much they earn. If they are earning more than $275/week, they would be “in excess” and not eligible for additional benefits. The best thing to do is to go ahead and file the claim. At the end of the filing, claimants can check their claim summary or message center to see the monetary determination letter.

What is the minimum number of employees that should be a part of a Partial/Employer filed claim?

As few as one.

Can the Employer file if they do not have Excel?

Yes, they can use any application they have that is similar to Excel and we can convert it here.

How does an employer extend their date if they have already filed?

It is recommended to call 615-770-1712 or they can provide a new spreadsheet with the new extended dates listed. It is always recommended for the employer to file with the full 16 weeks listed.

Can you provide a phone number to call for online access?


Do we have an obligation to provide notice under the federal WARN Act if we are forced to suspend operations on account of the coronavirus and its aftermath? 

Yes, WARN regulations have NOT been waived so all statutes still apply. However, because of the language in the statute and the unexpectedness of this pandemic the 60-day provision would not apply.

Can I send employees home who exhibit potential symptoms of contagious illnesses at work?

Should be part of normal procedures but based on the company’s policy, but if they are continued to be paid, they will not need to file unemployment.

If my employee indicates that they contracted the coronavirus while at work, will this result in a compensable workers’ compensation claim?  Does the same apply if they were on a business trip?

You would need to contact the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation at 800-332-2667 (within Tennessee) or 615-532-4812.

What are our obligations with respect to uniformed service members who are called up to serve in response to the COVID-19 crisis?

USERRA laws that govern recalls still apply.

I have immediate hiring needs, how can I be part of TN Talent Exchange?

Register on Go to for more information.

I am a staffing firm and want to help get people to work; can I get a listing of folks who are unemployed?

Other than the normal process through Jobs4TN, or now the TN Talent Exchange, there is no mechanism to provide a list. WARN information will not be distributed to staffing companies.

Where can employers get information concerning the Tennessee Talent Exchange?

Employers can follow this link:

If an employer sends an apprentice home and the apprentice is no longer working, is the employer responsible for lost wages?

The employer would not be held responsible for wages any more than any other layoff under normal circumstances within a company. If the employer is not responsible for wages, then the employee may be eligible to file for unemployment.

If apprentices are laid off, do they remain in a registered apprenticeship program?

Please refer to guidance from the USDOL Apprenticeship program.

If we are responding to a claim, is the layoff date the last day worked?

Yes, it’s the last day the employee physically worked.

Is the employer account number their EIN or JOBS4TN account number?

It is their SEIN and their JOBS4TN account number. It starts with 0 and has 7 numbers in it.

Why would an employee be told by the Unemployment Division that their claim is “awaiting employer action”?

This would be the case if the employer did not file a Partial/Employer filed claim and the department has to verify the reason for separation. It speeds up the process when employers provide the separation notice or file a mass claim directly into

Must we keep paying employees who are not working? Example:  Employees want to take sick leave so they are not exposed, but are not actually sick.

If the employer chooses to pay the employee, then there would be no need to file unemployment.

If we lay off employees temporarily, do we have to pay out their vacation?  If so, is there a timeframe for which it must be paid?

It is encouraged to pay the employee; otherwise, they would be eligible to file unemployment.

Can we lay employees off who are on medical leave?

That is up to employer/company policy and the employee may still be eligible to file for unemployment if not paid.

Can we automatically charge missed time to vacation and leave balances?

That is up to employer/company policy. The employee may still be eligible to file for unemployment if not paid.

Does family and medical leave apply to this situation?

That depends on guidance from USDOL and the American Rescue Plan Act.

Can my employees quit and file for unemployment?

The department cannot bar anyone from applying for unemployment benefits. However, when a claim is filed the employer is notified and has seven days to respond to the claim. If the employee resigned, or quit, the employer should respond accordingly and provide the facts to the department. 

Should I provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to my employees?

Businesses are encouraged to follow guidance issued by the CDC, Tennessee Department of Health, and any applicable federal or regulatory requirements.

If a claimant fails to return to work due to a lack of PPE provided by the employer, TDLWD will investigate these cases and decisions will be made on an individual case-by-case basis on the claimant’s eligibility to continue to collect UI benefits.

Are employees required to return to work if called back?

Yes, unless they meet a qualified exception.

How do I report an employee who refused recall back to employment?  

You may submit your information at Please answer all questions. It will also be helpful to provide any documentation you have to confirm the employee was notified of the need to report to work or refused to report to work.

What do I do if I offer a claimant suitable work and they refuse the offer?

Tennessee law requires unemployment claimants to accept suitable work when offered by an employer or risk disqualification from the unemployment benefits program. If an employer notifies the agency an applicant who is receiving unemployment did not accept a job offer, the agency will investigate the allegation. TDLWD requires the employer to provide the name of the claimant, the job title refused, the job’s pay rate and the required job duties. Employers can submit that information through the REFUSAL TO WORK portal available here.

Is an employee required to return to work if they are under quarantine by a physician or governmental official?

No, at this time the employee must comply with the quarantine orders. The employees should supply documentation to you covering the dates of the quarantine.   

Do I have to recall the employee to the same position, same rate of pay, and same schedule?

It would be best if the employee was recalled in the same capacity as previous employment. If that is not possible, we will investigate the employee’s failure to return to work and issue a determination based on TN employment security law.  

What documentation should be provided to the agency to show contact was made for recall of an employee?  

We will need verification that you communicated the need to report back to work to your employee. This verification may include, but is not limited to, an e-mail, certified letter with proof of delivery, a voice mail recording, or phone record of the call to the employee’s most current contact information.  

Will the agency let me know the outcome of the refusal of return to work issue?  

The agency will issue a written determination that will be delivered to your preferred method of communication.

If you disagree, you will have fifteen (15) calendar days from the mail date of the issued decision to file an appeal. You may file an appeal online via, by email at, fax to 615-741-8933, or you can mail your appeal to: TDLWD, Attention: Appeals Tribunal, 220 French Landing Dr., Nashville, TN 37243.

As an employer, will the employees I laid off due to the pandemic impact charges to my unemployment tax account?

The employer tax account of any contributory employer in a claimant’s base period for any unemployment benefits paid to a claimant as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and its effects, for the period of March 15, 2020, through March 14, 2021, shall be harmless and not charged.


This Page Last Updated: May 20, 2021 at 5:22 PM