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Did Your Employer Give You Trouble Calling in to Work because of Illness?

It’s not unusual to call in sick to work, only to be given a hard time or greeted with a mildly hostile environment once you return. It’s something employees have been forced to put up with for years, but losing your job because you need a sick day takes things to the extreme – and thanks to expanding sick pay laws might soon be illegal.

Policies regarding sick time vary a great deal from company to company. Many employees are treated well and their employers understand everyone gets sick from time to time. Some companies build sick time off into their employee benefits, but many have moved toward a paid-time-off policy, wherein employees get a set number of paid days off no matter the reason. Requiring these companies to offer days off specifically for illness could cut into other benefits, such as personal or vacation time.

The reason many employers are bothered by sick time is because it is spur-of-the-moment. Management has no time to prepare for an employee’s absence, which means they might be short-staffed and in some cases, not meet certain regulatory requirements. Unfortunately, a workplace filled with human beings is going to be faced with the challenges of human workers – like unexpected illness.

Sick Pay Laws Vary, but Efforts Continue to Federally Mandate Paid Time Off for Illness

In most states, employees must meet certain requirements to be covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act. Their employer must be large enough and they must be employed for a certain length of time to enjoy the protections afforded under the law. And for many, protections under the law would not apply to their specific circumstances.

Some states are moving toward paid sick leave laws, like California, where a paid sick leave law went into effect in July 2015. There is also a new push for federal law to mandate paid sick leave.

In his 2015 State of the Union Address, the president expanded medical leave for federal employees and urged Congress to pass a nationwide paid sick leave law that would prohibit employers from interfering with employees who use earned paid sick leave. In addition to providing paid time off for illness, employers would also be restricted from firing an employee for calling out sick under these new laws.

Other Options that Could Help You Now

If you do not live in a state with mandated sick time, there might still be action you can take to protect against sick time off abuses.

OSHA requirements could penalize employers for demanding sick employees come to work. OSHA requires employers maintain a safe workplace, which includes not having employees with infectious illnesses on the job. If reported, your employer could be fined for forcing you to come to work sick, but OSHA does not address whether or not an employer can fire an employee for not being at work due to illness.

Whether or not you have a right to take legal action against your employer regarding sick time varies from location to location and case to case. The laws are in the midst of changing, so it is important to find an attorney on top of the latest developments who can help you manage your case – if you have one.

For more information or to schedule a consultation, contact Borrelli & Associates, P.L.L.C. to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.

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