Employee Rights as Business Reopen Amidst COVID-19

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It’s happening, the time has come to REOPEN!

As States enter reopening phases, companies will have the option to fully reopen their office for business!

However, not everyone is as eager (or able) to get back to the workplace.

So it begs the question, what exactly are my employee rights about returning to work if I am not ready/able to do so. 

Here is what we know:

If you are in the category of individuals considered at higher risk:

  • If you have any of the following medical conditions you are considered high risk of developing dangerous symptoms of COVID-19: 

Individuals with heart or lung conditions, weakened immune systems, severe obesity, diabetes or people over the age of 60.

If you find yourself in this group and your work place reopens you need to advise your supervisor of your situation.

Present the medical records to back up your diagnosis and attempt to come up with a plan to work from home if possible. 

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is advising employers to find ways to decrease the risk for people with underlying conditions and are protecting these individuals under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Employers will want to verify laws before letting go of employees if they are unable to return to work due to high risk medical conditions to avoid any possible legal action. 

If you do not want to return to work for fear of getting sick: 

  • If you are not considered high risk and refuse to return to work you could possibly lose access to unemployment benefits.

You CAN NOT refuse to return to work based on anxiety over exposure alone and your employer does not have to grant your request to stay home. 

Make sure you communicate  with your employer and discuss your concerns. 

Communication is KEY!

If you do not have childcare. 

  • Schools are out and many childcare facilities will possibly remain closed for months to come. So what do you do if you are asked to return to work but do not have child care? 

Short answer – you advise your employer of your current situation and try to work out a strategy or schedule that works for your family and employer. 

You will continue to qualify for unemployment benefits if you are unable to return to work due to lack of child care and are protected from being let go under The Families First Coronavirus Response Act. 

Get informed on this new act here: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-employee-paid-leave

Ultimately we highly recommended transparent, empathetic, honest communication between employer and employee as we reopen.

We are in this TOGETHER, and Together We Are iDEAL.

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