Can my employer force me to go to work during the Coronavirus pandemic?
As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to grow, more and more workers are being asked to work from home. But what if your employer demands that you report to work? What are your rights?
Can you boss or employer actually force to make you work during the pandemic?
Some experts say no but the laws are not so clear-cut.
This we know: if your local government says that your job is “essential,” you may have to comply with your employer’s wishes or risk termination or other consequences. Federal guidelines allow state and local municipalities to decide which businesses are essential during a crisis. Thus far, generally, grocery stores workers, food laborers, medical staff, as well as utilities and transportation workers are considered essential. Of course, law enforcement and emergency personnel are also considered personnel.
If there are not local requirements for you to show up during the pandemic, you are probably within your legal grounds to stay home. Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations have a “general duty clause” that requires workplaces to offer environments that are “free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause serious injury or death.” The pandemic would fall under those guidelines.
Most employers are finding ways to avoid taking action against their employees. Working fro home or temporary closures will be considered before bosses will ask workers to leave their homes.
Remember, under most circumstances, if someone at your workplace has the virus, your boss has to tell you. Of course, under HIPAA laws, they cannot reveal the identity of the infected person. Only official health agencies such as the CD or health departments can disclose identifiable information without a patient’s authorization.
If your employer is pressuring you to return to work and your workplace is at high-risk for coronavirus, you can file a confidential safety and health complaint and ask for an OSHA inspection, officials said.
No one plans on getting sick, but if need to call the experts at the Ehline Law Firm APLC. All initial consultations are free. They answer the phone and, in some cases, they can cover your medical expenses upfront.