GREENSBORO, N.C. — You go to work. You wear your mask. You wait away from others and you wash your hands. You still get COVID or a coworker does and you're at risk. Can your employer require you to use your sick leave or vacation time? Yes and no.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act or FFCRA requires only certain employers are required to provide employees with paid sick leave or expanded medical leave due to COVID-19.
Covered employers are public or private employers with fewer than 500 employees and small businesses with fewer than 50 employees may be exempt due to certain circumstances. This means most employers with 51 to 499 employees are covered under this special sick leave, but the rest are not.
“The government thought employers who had more than 500 employees would provide sick leave to their employees without facing hardship. The government wanted those large employers to do the right thing, whether they do, that's up to them,” said Nicole Patino, an attorney at The Law Office of Fred T. Hamlet.
A viewer asked 2WTK this week:
Please look into employees being sent home for COVID issues and not being paid!!!!!! Or being made to use vacation time.
Patino says if the business is closed for cleaning due to COVID the employer may be able to require the employee to use their vacation time or unpaid time.
In North Carolina, if a facility is closed, let's say due to bad weather, employees who are not salary would not be entitled to pay under the law.