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Worker News

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Weekly (1/27/20)

Topic of the Week  Infectious Diseases and the Workplace

  • Do I have to call my employer if I will miss work due to being sick with the flu?
  • How can I avoid getting sick at work? How can I prevent giving co-workers my cold?
  • Can my employer force me to stay home from work if I, or one of my family members, contracts an infectious disease?
Do I have to call my employer if I will miss work due to being sick with the flu?

Yes. While FMLA does protect sick employees, you still must call your employer and follow any call-in procedure your employer has established. However, if your illness is sudden and prevents you from calling your employer immediately, then you may not need call in immediately, so long as you DO call in as soon as reasonably possible. If you fail to do so, you will not be given FMLA's protection.

How can I avoid getting sick at work? How can I prevent giving co-workers my cold?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ("CDC"), the best option to avoid the flu is to get the flu shot, and the best way to avoid other infectious diseases is to get the corresponding vaccination. For other contagious illnesses do the following:

    • Avoid close contact with others when you, or they, are sick;
    • Stay at home when you are sick;
    • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze;
    • Washing your hands often, with soap and water for at least 20 seconds;
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands (this is an important step to avoid catching the flu);
    • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects at work.

For more information about stopping the spread of germs at work, refer to the CDC website.

Can my employer force me to stay home from work if I, or one of my family members, contracts an infectious disease?

Yes, under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), an employer may force an employee to stay home if the employer believes that the employee will pose a direct threat to the workplace due to having or being exposed to, a serious infectious disease. This includes employees that are still willing and able to work. Many diseases are very infectious. For example, the Measles virus can be caught if you enter a room where an infected individual was located thirty minutes ago. Sometimes the best way an employer can prevent the threat of exposure to all employees is to require one employee to stay home from work.

Thought of the Week

"You can’t take care of yourself if you are the go-to for everyone else...it can feel good in the moment to be a colleague’s go-to for a work request, but it can create an inescapable loop because when the moment passes. By overloading yourself with other people’s work requests to feel valuable you are creating a situation where you can’t care for yourself anymore. You may come to work sick or turn down much-needed vacations. Recovery is key to career success.You’re investing in your future self, you’re investing in your energy, you need that recovery time to recharge your batteries. "

–Lisa Orbé-Austin; licensed psychologist

Weekly Comic by Jerry King

Weekly Comic by Jerry King

Blog of the Week

Top Five News Headlines

    List of the Week

    from Robert Half

    Sickness in the Workplace

    • 90% of Americans show up to work sick.
    • 54% of employees go to work sick because they have too much work to do.
    • 40% of employees go to work sick because they don't want to use their sick days.

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