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What if work pressures me to return before I feel ready?

On Behalf of | Oct 29, 2021 | Workers' Compensation

Mississippi workers are justifiably concerned about health and wellness when they are on the job. They are also frequently worried about adhering to their terms of employment and avoiding sanctions. Inevitably, that can lead to a clash between staying home when sick and maintaining good standing in the workplace. Understanding the law for sick leave and what employers can do is crucial when confronted by this situation.

Key factors employees should know when sick

It can be stressful if an employee is sick and the employer is exerting pressure to come to work. There are employment laws that cover this issue. Employers pressuring employees to work when they are sick does not necessarily break the law. Its legality hinges on several factors including: the sick leave policy; if the employer fails to follow it; if the worker has sick time available; if there is paid or unpaid time off; and if working while sick would violate a law such as a quarantine requirement.

Employers have wide leeway in disciplining employees and setting policy, so it is possible that there will be penalties for failing to work when asked to do so. In many jobs, there is paid time off. That is not true for every job. If there are established policies such as the employee needing to give notice that he or she cannot work or finding another worker to cover for them, they should be followed. Using the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) could be an alternative. If an employee is forced to work when sick, becomes sicker or suffers an injury, a workers’ compensation claim could be initiated.

If forced to work when sick, follow certain steps

Workers who have the choice of going to work when sick or risking their employment should inform co-workers they are sick, take safety precautions, keep a reasonable distance away from others and make sure the employer knows about the illness. When this truly becomes a problem with an ongoing dispute, it may be wise to have professional advice with assessing options and taking legal steps.