In 2018, the U.S. civilian labor force was comprised of around 162.07 million people. Of course, in 2020, the nation’s workforce has dwindled, with millions filing for unemployment due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, many Americans were fortunate enough to keep their jobs during these uncertain times. Thanks to modern technology, many of the 11 million meetings that take place each day in the U.S. were accomplished using video conferencing.

But if you were temporarily laid off during this period, there may be reason to hope. Not only do 68% of HR professionals say they’ve had difficulty recruiting for full-time positions, but many businesses are opening back up to operate in at least a limited capacity. That said, this doesn’t mean your family’s troubles are over. While this might be good news for your bank account, there are some inherent risks that go along with going back to work. Many parents are facing the reality of taking on a more active role in the education of their kids, whether it’s supervising their remote classes on Zoom or taking over teaching themselves. And even if your kids are back in the physical classroom most of the time, going to the office can expose your family to an even greater likelihood of COVID-19 contraction. Whatever your concerns are during these uncertain times, here are just a few tips that you can turn to.

Know Your Rights
According to a recent poll, 54% of respondents say they’re worried about workplace viral exposure. But many employees are also worried about being permanently terminated or having trouble finding another job in the current economy. But even if you live in an at-will state, you still retain rights as a worker. According to a spokesperson from the National Employment Law Project, those who have underlying conditions may be able to continue collecting unemployment if their doctor advises them not to return to work. If this situation applies to you, you can contact your employer and explain why you’re unable to return. Then, you should contact your state’s unemployment office; you may need to provide them with a letter from your doctor to facilitate a decision in your favor. There’s also a chance that if you’re immunocompromised or that you have a specific health condition that makes you more vulnerable to serious complications of COVID-19 that you would be able to continue telecommuting thanks to provisions made by the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Communicate With Your Employer
If the aforementioned situations don’t apply to you, you’ll generally have to return to work if you want to keep your job. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that your boss will be set against an alternative that keeps everyone happy and safe. Consider talking to your employer about the possibility of staggering the return of workers to accommodate those who are lower-risk or those in essential positions first. This can keep everyone at the office safer while taking some of the pressure off. It’s also possible that your office may be open to the idea of remote work for certain employees for the foreseeable future. Although some businesses weren’t really prepared for that transition at the start of the pandemic, many have found this work-from-home “experiment” to be more successful than they’d imagined. If you can show how productive you’ve been at home or point out some major wins the company has experienced even during quarantine, this may be able to convince your employer to continue with telework for a while. You might also ask for a short extension on either telework or on returning to work at all; if your employer needs to cut costs anyway, they might consider delaying your re-hiring so you can continue collecting unemployment.

Consider Taking Paid Leave
Parents, even those without underlying conditions, may be uniquely positioned to get a little bit of reprieve during the pandemic. A recent study found that 54% of working parents planned to quit their jobs if their kids didn’t return to in-person learning, but that may not be completely necessary if you take advantage of paid leave protections that are now in place. One of the actions Congress took at the onset of the pandemic was to pass the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. It offers at least two weeks of partial paid leave for working families. Although it’s capped at $200 per day (or $12,000 over a 12-week period), parents can take this leave at any time through 2020. If you’re unable to work because you need to care for a child under the age of 18 whose school or care provider is closed or unavailable due to the pandemic, you may be eligible for this relief. For schools that have partially reopened, parents may be able to take advantage of paid leave on the days that the school is physically closed. What’s more, workers who have been employed for at least 30 calendar days can be eligible for up to 10 weeks of paid expanded family leave for the same reason. This paid leave can be taken intermittently, but not concurrently, with the permission of your employer. Note that this paid leave act only applies to employers with fewer than 500 workers, while small businesses with fewer than 50 employees may be exempt.

There’s no doubt that the pandemic has been especially tough on working parents and their kids. And while gainful employment may solve some problems, it’s understandable that you might be worried about the health implications of returning to work. With these tips in mind, you may be more likely to find a positive resolution that can provide a bit of extra protection for you and your loved ones.