Sick day at home. Asian woman has runny and common cold.
  • Posted By Sirmabekian
  • 2022

Many employees are under the impression that they should stay at home and get well when sick rather than go to work. However, there are some supervisors that might request their employees to return early or discourage them from using sick time. Can a boss force you to work when sick?

The Legality of Compelling Employees to Work While Sick

While it is technically legal to compel employees to come to work while sick, employees might also have the option of ignoring such requests. To determine what should be done, there are a number of questions that should be answered, such as:

  • Are you adhering to your company’s illness leave policy?
  • Is your supervisor ignoring the company’s illness leave policy?
  • Do you intend to get paid off time? Is sick time still available for you?
  • Are you able to afford unpaid leave?
  • Will working make you break laws such as quarantines and orders to remain at home?

Even if you have a doctor’s note which proves you’re sick or have a contagious sickness, it is still necessary to comply with the illness leave policy of your company or you could lose your employment or daily pay.

Your Job Status Could Determine Sick Time

There are also instances where your contract or employment status might determine your illness time. For example, your boss could legally decide not to render compensation for the times when you didn’t work. Generally speaking, staying home while sick benefits everyone because employees who are ill get the time to recover while coworkers aren’t exposed to a contagion that could cause more to become sick. However, there are employees who demand paid sickness time and there are also those that might abuse it, making the situation tricky.

Carefully Review Your Company’s Policies for Sick Leave

This is why it is so important to know the illness leave policies for the company you work for. While the laws for one state may differ from another, most employers require employees to:

  • Use their vacation time when illness time is no longer available
  • Find a coworker to cover their shift
  • Provide notice that you’re unable to work several hours in advance
  • Transfer your work so backup personnel can take over it

Remember that your employer can request that you come to work at any time. They might also get upset if you don’t, possibly writing you up. You are responsible for notifying employers of your sickness status and inability to perform. Since most provide paid off-time anyhow, you should use it whenever it’s available, and if so your employer shouldn’t deny the request even if they are not thrilled about it.

The Importance of FMLA

FMLA stands for Family and Medical Leave Act and can give employees additional sick time for extended illness, but it is important to remember that this time is nonpaid. If your employer doesn’t allow you to return after you’ve taken FMLA leave, or they decide to fire you, then this could be grounds for wrongful termination.

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