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Business owners concerned their employees are making more money claiming unemployment

Business owners in Portland said their employees are making more money claiming unemployment than they are working.

PORTLAND, Maine — "They got more money through unemployment," said Blyth&Burrows owner Joshua Miranda.

That's the reality Miranda is facing while trying to hire back his employees at his restaurant and bar, Blyth&Burrows in Portland, after being closed due to the coronavirus.

"There isn't going to be a ship without any sailors," said Miranda.

The Maine Department of Labor Commissioner (MDOL) said if an employer is asking you to come back to work, the expectation is you will, but she said it depends.

"There are a number of conditions that would permit you to not go back to work if you have been asked by a medical professional to quarantine if you have an immune-compromised system," Commissioner Laura Fortman said.

If you file for unemployment in Maine, you can claim anywhere between $77-$445 a week. It depends on how much you were making in the last eighteen months of employment.

The Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides an additional $600 a week until July 25th.

RELATED: Fewer Mainers filed for unemployment last week; numbers remain historically high amid coronavirus, COVID-19

"I asked him about that specifically and he said yes he is making more than he was before," Bull Feeney's owner Doug Fuss said.

Fuss said his employees are telling him the same.

"I'm certainly concerned."

Both owners said while everything is up in the air, they are remaining optimistic their employees will come back to work.

"We think we're going to be okay. A lot of people have a better work ethic than most and I think they're eager to get back to work," Miranda said.

"They're anxious to get back to work. I think we all are. It really depends on the individual," Fuss said.

The MDOL said employers should let them know if employees have turned down the offer to come back to work.

People claiming unemployment are now able to receive benefits in Maine for a total of 39 weeks.

RELATED: Read Maine Phase 1 COVID-19 Prevention Checklist to help business reopen with reduced coronavirus restrictions

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At NEWS CENTER Maine, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: /coronavirus

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