Q: “What if an employee does not feel comfortable coming back to work before 6/1? We have all the precautions mandated. They are not entitled to unemployment, right?”
May 5, 2020
A: Essential businesses are currently dealing with this question, and all businesses are likely to face it after stay-at-home restrictions are lifted. In general, employees who are essential or aren’t subject to a stay-at-home order can be required to report to work (and thus will become ineligible for unemployment if they refuse). Still, it’s important to be consistent in responding to these situations, and there are some situations where employees may have a right to stay home. For instance, if an employee is pregnant or has a preexisting condition, it’s important to look at whether not reporting to the office would be a reasonable accommodation. Similarly, it’s important to confirm that the employee is refusing to report because they are uncomfortable and not for a reason for which the law may permit them to use leave time (such as for Emergency Paid Sick Leave or Extended FMLA under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act or for “old fashioned” FMLA).