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Employee Rights During Coronavirus Crisis


Businesses all over the world are closing and many employees are losing their jobs or being laid off. Restaurants, office buildings, and barbershops make up a large portion of the work done by hourly employees who now must juggle taking care of their out-of-school children and still try to earn money to pay the bills. Here are a few suggestions from the government which may help.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can I work from home?

Can I get fired for refusing to travel for work?

Am I entitled to sick leave?

Do I qualify for FMLA?

Working from Home - generally, employers are not required by law to pay you to work from home, but if your employer agrees to it, you can. If most of your work tasks can be done on a computer it is possible to telecommute.

Travel for Work - can an employer fire you for refusing to travel? This is a question that could go either way. Technically, they could fire you for refusing to travel under normal situations, but since we are in lockdown and travel is restricted in some areas you may be protected by the National Labor Relations Act’s provision for protected concerted activity.

What About Sick Leave?

What if my employers does not offer paid sick leave, can they force me to come into work? Currently, employers can still insist you come to work unless you are sick. The only time you can refuse is if you feel you would be in danger by traveling to your job.

According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), an employee can refuse to come to work if they feel they are in danger from physical harm or imminent death. However, for immunocompromised individuals, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) offers protections for workers who qualify. The employer has to make reasonable accommodations.

That said, employers should offer remote work options if possible, and for businesses requiring employees to be on-site should stagger shifts to reduce workforce density. All employers should follow CDC and OSHA guidelines for providing a safe and clean

working environment.

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) offers two weeks of unpaid leave and an additional ten weeks of leave at two-thirds of the employees regular salary to those who qualify. (Under theFamilies First Act, to qualify for the FMLA employees need only to have worked for a period of 30 days for a company of over 50 employees.)

Safeguarding Personal Information

How can I protect my personal information?

When it comes to your personal information, you can never be too careful. Information about your health, finances, and job could be in danger of being stolen. The nature of a crisis brings out all types of criminal activity including phishing scams and other fraud activities. Protect your personal information by keeping passwords secure, and never divulge information to anyone over the phone.

Changes in employment laws can be confusing. Contact your LegalShield law firm provider to speak to an attorney regarding employment laws and requirements.

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