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Got a legal question? COVID & your employer, wills, workers comp, power of attorney

Got a legal question? We have the answers.

GREENSBORO, N.C. —

EMPLOYMENT ISSUES & WORKERS COMP

VACCINES & EMPLOYERS

THE QUESTION:

Can your employer make you take the COVID-19 vaccine? 

THE ANSWER:

Yes. In general, at-will employees can be mandated to get the COVID-19 vaccine by their employer in order to work at their business. However, there are exceptions

If you get COVID-19 on the job, you could get workers' compensation. But if you choose not to come back to work, things aren't so black and white. 

FFCRA 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.

CAN MY EMPLOYER MAKE ME TAKE SICK LEAVE OR USE VACATION TIME? 

“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:
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.

WILLS, POWER OF ATTORNEY AND INHERITING DEBT 

Can you inherit your parents' debt?

Won't my kids or spouse just get everything I have?

If I asked a couple to be my kids' Godparents, isn't that enough?

The financial power of attorney is the first thing to consider. This gives someone the ability to make financial decisions on your behalf. They can go into effect whenever you decide. However, most people design them to go into effect once the principal or the person who’s giving the authority dies or otherwise can no longer make decisions for themselves.

Let’s say you get sick and fall into a coma, you don’t just need someone to be able to make financial decisions but medical ones too. 

Health Care Power of Attorney will allow someone to make medical decisions on your behalf. A living will is a bit of a more direct route. It can record your wishes about healthcare decisions. The living will goes straight to doctors and medical professionals.

WILLS

As you know, a will can also layout your decisions for what will happen with your assets once you pass away. However, your property will remain in your name until that happens. A living trust puts the property in a designated person’s name while you’re alive. It may distribute the property more efficiently.

Make sure there are carefully written documents to implement the plan. Review it every 3-5 years or when there are changes in health, family, finances, or the law. Keep your financial advisor, CPA, or another tax expert in the loop with these plans.

Legal Aid of NC can help answer some of your questions and point you in the right direction, for free.