If I have existing health conditions, what can I do to protect myself from the coronavirus at work?
In this short video, we discuss how employees with medical issues that might make them particularly vulnerable to COVID 19 can protect themselves at work.
Hey everybody, this is Matt Besser with the Ohio employment attorneys at Bolek Besser Glesius LLC.
We’re getting a ton of questions from employees about their rights during the coronavirus pandemic.
Today I want to talk about the one we’re getting most often: If I have existing health conditions, what can I do to protect myself from the coronavirus at work?
Well, there’s a couple options.
Starting on April 1st, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act gives many employees up to 80 hours of paid leave if they’re under a doctor’s self-quarantine order.
So if your doctor has told you to stay home, you may have the right to up to two weeks of job-protected paid leave.
There’s a catch though.
Congress excluded healthcare workers and first responders from the Families First Act. They also excluded big employers—those with more than 500 employees.
All these folks can’t use the paid leave protections of the Families First Act.
Even if you are covered by the Act, it’s only two weeks of leaves. Folks will probably need more than that to wait out the pandemic.
Coronavirus protections for employees with existing disabilities
There’s another option for employees with health issues.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, you can ask your employer for a ‘reasonable accommodation.’ That means some sort of change to normal workplace policies and procedures that lets employees with medical issues keep doing their jobs.
During the pandemic, there’s a couple different accommodations to think about.
If you can do your job remotely, you might ask for telework. If telework isn’t an option, you might ask for temporary medical leave. Another option could be personal protective equipment to wear at work. Whatever your request, it’s a good idea to put it in writing, so there’s proof you asked.
Most employers will want some proof you need an accommodation when you ask for one. So you may need a note from your doctor.
Keep in mind, you aren’t automatically entitled to whatever accommodation you ask for. Employers might say no. But your employer does have to work with you to figure out whether there’s something that would let you do your job safely, without causing undue hardship on your employer.
Those are two options for employees with health issues who are worried about getting coronavirus at work. Every case is different though, so you really need to talk to an employment lawyer to figure out what your rights are.
If you have questions about your employment rights during the coronavirus pandemic, Bolek Besser Glesius is here to answer them. Call us for a free consultation at 216-464-3004, or visit our website at www.bbgohio.com.
We’ll try to answer some more common questions about coronavirus in the workplace in future videos. To keep up to date, click subscribe below.
Thanks, and stay safe everyone.