Can You Be Fired for Attendance During a Pandemic?
The pandemic has brought forth a variety of struggles that employers and employees have to work their way through. One such problem is attendance. Workers call out for a variety of reasons such as personal illness, family member care, COVID-19 concerns, and emergencies.
You might be wondering if an employer can terminate you for attendance during the pandemic. An employer can do so, but it's probably not likely. Here's why:
Current Stay-At-Home Orders
Many employers will have difficulty firing their workers during the pandemic because of the stay-at-home orders alone. An employee who has underlying medical issues might have to stay home from work if the governor of that state drops an order. In that case, the employer could get in trouble if they fire such a person for staying home.
Personal Leaves and FMLA
Employees can opt to request a personal leave of absence if they are going to be away from work for more than three days. Federally protected FMLA leave is available to sick employees who have been with the company for a year and worked more than 1,250 hours. Employers cannot fire workers who are out on FMLA, and it's not likey that they would fire someone for whom they approved a personal leave.
Businesses have to be careful not to get themselves involved in wrongful termination claims. Though they may have the right to terminate an employee for attendance, it's not likely that they would go that route during this time.
This doesn't mean that an employer can't fire you for attendance during the pandemic. It doesn't mean that your employer can't find a different reason to fire you either. It means that your employer is likely to be careful in its decision-making process because of all that's going on right now. You should make every effort to go into work if you're capable of doing so. However, it's understandable if you decide to call out if you're sick or concerned about the COVID-19 virus. Be sure to perform proper callout procedures, as stated in your employee handbook, and do all of your callouts sparingly. It may be best for you to apply for a leave of absence if you're ill, or you need to take care of a loved one.