With more and more businesses reopening across the country, employees are starting to get really apprehensive about going back to work in the midst of the pandemic, worried about falling prey to the disease as well. For instance, the union for workers at a meat processing plant in south Alberta are trying to stop it from reopening, since a vast majority of employees are not in favor of returning, owning to the fact that more than half of the employees have tested positive for COVID-19. While no one wishes to be unemployed or furloughed indefinitely, a recent survey shows that most workers have misgivings about returning to work. Some employees are dreading it because they’re afraid of getting sick at work, some fear commuting on crowded public transportation, while others no longer have childcare. Here, we have tried to address a few concerns that are plaguing employees at the moment.
Do Employees Have To Go Back Into Work If Asked?
Most employees have no choice in the matter, especially if the workplace has put in all the safety measures. If your company has complied with the regulations imposed by the state health authorities, and is meeting all the prescribed safety requirements, the employee has to return to work. Even if you feel unsafe in the wake of these turbulent times, or have concerns regarding your safety, you can’t stay at home forever. If a company is doing everything possible to ensure the safety of employees, they are well within their rights to consider an employee’s refusal to rejoin as a form of misconduct, or even resignation. In such an event, you run the risk of losing your job and all the perks and benefits you are currently enjoying. A lot of people are going to be finding themselves of the verge of an inadvertent resignation just because they simply refuse to come into work without any genuine issue.
If the prospect of going back to work is keeping you up at night, perhaps you can talk with your employers about why you are feeling so uncomfortable or if they can give you a few more works to transition back to your old routine. Most leaders are already planning past the crisis and are proving to be more flexible than before. As things get rolling again at your workplace, can utilized this time to ask your co-workers about the safety measures in place and what your company is doing to ensure the safety of employees. This will help you feel more comfortable about rejoining. As long as your boss says it is OK, you wont lose your job while working from home.
Are There Any Special Rules If You Have An Underlying Health Condition?
As we all know by now that people with underlying health conditions are especially at risk of becoming severely ill due to COVID-19. For instance, if you are already suffering from an immune deficiency, heart disease, or diabetes, you are within your rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act or state or local disability laws, to work from home or collect unemployment benefits if you lose your job. If you have an underlying chronic health condition, the first thing to do is to contact your employer and explain why you cannot return to work. If they don’t seem to comply, talk with your state’s unemployment office, and try to remain on unemployment assistance. The final decision is made by the state unemployment office but a letter from a health physician should help.
What If My company Is Not Taking Safety Precautions Seriously?
If you feel uncomfortable rejoining because your company is not obliging with the specified safety laws, for instance your employer hasn’t adequately sterilized a desk of a worker who tested positive for Covid-19, you can lodge a complaint under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. All employees have a right to work in an environment free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm. if your workplace is not taking basic safety precautions that similar businesses in the area are, you might qualify to refuse to go back to that job and stay on unemployment.
What if I no longer have childcare?
With daycare centers and schools shut down all over the country, most parents are resorting to wearing multiple hats, pulling triple duty as a worker, teacher, and a full-time parent, without any help. And if they get called back to work before daycares and schools resume, they could be stuck in a rut. If the nature of your job is such that you cannot work from home, you can apply for paid leaves under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Under the law, employers are obliged to offer paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave to workers who have to care for a child whose childcare provider is no longer available in the wake of the pandemic. To be eligible, employees should be working at a company with less than 500 employees and the children have to be minors. As for businesses who are eligible for this law, are exempted from paying the tax money they would otherwise have sent to the IRS and instead leverage it to cover the cost of paid leave for parents.
What If I Don’t Want To Comply With Temperature Checks?
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has asked employers to regularly check the body temperature of employees, but the results are subject to confidentiality requirements. This is because fever is usually one of the first symptoms of a COVID-19 patient, however the temperature checks should be conducted in a non-discriminatory and safe manner. Employers are within their right to refuse an employee entry into the office premises if they fail to cooperate. This refusal and resulting absence from work can serve as a basis for employee disciplinary action as well.
What If I Return To Work And Get Infected With COVID-19?
The best recourse in this case is through workers’ compensation if an employee decides to take legal action against their employer. IF your employer was negligent in the safety precautions that they took, you have within your right to ask for Workers’ Compensation. In this case, the event would be treated as a workplace accident or workplace injury. However, it is not always fair to blame your employer since who knows, you could have contracted the disease while out grocery shopping or via some currency notes you held.