Topic of the Week Workers Rights During Public Health Emergencies
- I have run out of sick leave and I am ill, can my employer grant me advanced sick leave?
- Can my employer encourage or require me to telework as an infection control strategy?
- Do employers have to pay employees their same hourly rate or salary if they work at home?
I have run out of sick leave and I am ill, can my employer grant me advanced sick leave?
Yes, advance leave can be granted to an employee who is ill due to an infectious disease, such as COVID-19, or must care for a family member who is ill.
However, while sick leave may be advanced at an agency’s discretion, it is not an employee entitlement. The sick leave regulations allow an employee to be advanced sick leave for exposure to a quarantinable communicable disease, subject to the limitations below:
- 240 hours (30 days) may be advanced if the employee would jeopardize the health of others by his or her presence on the job because of exposure to a quarantinable communicable disease;
- 104 hours (13 days) may be advanced if the employee is providing care for a family member who would jeopardize the health of others by his or her presence in the community because of exposure to a quarantinable communicable disease.
Can my employer encourage or require me to telework as an infection control strategy?
Yes. An employer may encourage or require employees to telework as an infection-control or prevention strategy, including based on timely information from public health authorities about pandemics, public health emergencies, or other similar conditions. Telework also may be a reasonable accommodation. Read more about other health and safety measures on our Infectious Disease page.
Do employers have to pay employees their same hourly rate or salary if they work at home?
If telework is being provided as a reasonable accommodation for a qualified individual with a disability, or if required by a union or employment contract, then you must pay the same hourly rate or salary.
If this is not the case and you do not have a union contract or other employment contracts, under the FLSA employers generally have to pay employees only for the hours they actually work, whether at home or at the employer’s office. However, the FLSA requires employers to pay non-exempt workers at least the minimum wage for all hours worked, and at least time and one half the regular rate of pay for hours worked in excess of 40 in a workweek. Salaried exempt employees generally must receive their full salary in any week in which they perform any work, subject to certain very limited exceptions.
If exempt employees cannot work from home, and cannot come into work, an employer must pay the employee unless the exempt employee does not work for the entire workweek.
Thought of the Week
"All of us are depending on essential workers to protect our health, safety, and well-being during this pandemic and ensure our economic and national security in the future.
Without essential workers, we would not have a path out of this pandemic. Essential workers enable us to shelter-in-place by putting food on shelves, transporting health workers, ensuring clean water, working across our healthcare system to protect our health and safety, and caring for the elderly and critically ill — all while putting their lives and their families’ lives at risk.
–Essential Worker Bill of Rights
Weekly Comic by Jerry King
Blog of the Week
List of the Week
from National Women's Law Center
When Hard Work Is Not Enough: Women in Low-Paid Jobs
- In the United States, more than 22.2 million people work in the 40 lowest paying jobs— and women make up nearly two-thirds (64%) of this workforce.
- 42% of women in low-paid jobs lived in or near poverty.
- Among parents in low-paid jobs, nearly three-quarters (74%) are mothers.
- 3% of all full-time working men and 4% of all full-time working women lived in poverty in 2018.