Can I Get Fired for Calling in Sick or for Fear of Getting Infected?
As COVID-19 restrictions lifted on May 1st for most of Missouri, Governor Parsons announced at a press conference, “When we open the state up, if you’ve got to go back to work, if your boss calls and says you have to go back to work, you have to go back to work.” This type of announcement from the state’s leader was concerning for many employees across the state, as many people worried they might lose their jobs if they needed to call in sick or if they were afraid of getting infected if they returned to work. Is it legal for your employer to terminate you if you do not come into work for reasons related to COVID-19? The answer depends on the specific details of your situation, though it may be lawful for you to lose your job under certain circumstances.
Leave Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act
The federal government passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which is effective until December 31, 2020, at the earliest. This law applies to all employers in the United States with fewer than 500 employees. If the Act applies to your employer, you are entitled to the following:
- Two weeks of paid sick leave (at your usual pay rate) if you have symptoms of COVID-19 and are seeking medical help, or you have a positive COVID-19 diagnosis
- Two weeks of paid sick leave (at two-thirds of your usual pay rate) to care for a child due to closed school or daycare, or care for another individual who is quarantined for COVID-19
- If you have been employed for 30 days or longer, ten weeks of emergency family and medical leave (at two-thirds your usual pay rate) to care for a child due to closed school or daycare for COVID-19 reasons
You are also able to take any sick leave provided under your employer’s regular policies. However, outside of the above, you might be vulnerable to termination if you do not show up to work without a qualified reason. Simply being afraid of exposure is understandable, but you cannot expect that your job will be protected. If you believe that you were exposed to COVID-19 at work and must miss work, your rights to workers’ compensation benefits will depend on the nature of your job. You should discuss your specific situation with a workers’ comp lawyer in Missouri right away.
Learn about Your Rights from a Missouri Workers’ Compensation Attorney
The Coronavirus pandemic has put many people in difficult situations, and you should not have to choose between your livelihood and your health. If you believe that your employer wrongfully retaliated against you for calling in sick or for avoiding exposure to COVID-19, you should speak with an attorney who can help at The Law Firm of Webster & Carlton. Contact us online or call our Springfield office at 417-890-4600 or our Joplin office at 417-781-5690 today. We are here to help and advise you of your rights.