COVID-19, or coronavirus 2019, is a respiratory illness that can spread from animal to person or person to person. The virus was first identified during an outbreak in Wuhan, China. Currently, health officials are working on a vaccine for it, but that may take up to a year before it is approved. There is no doubt the virus has had a significant impact on people’s lives since it was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). Here in Illinois, Governor Pritzker said he is filing emergency rules that will allow those who cannot work because they are sick with coronavirus to collect unemployment insurance benefits to the full extent permitted by federal law. This would mean employers are required to pay workers who go on sick leave due to coronavirus.
It is imperative that a person who thinks they may have coronavirus seek medical attention to avoid life-threatening complications and reduce the spread of it. President Trump recently announced that he was halting air travel from Europe to the United States for 30 days. In addition, he advised citizens to stay away from large gatherings in an effort to contain the virus and avoid further cases of it.
The following upper respiratory symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure:
Shortness of breath
For everyone’s safety, state and federal officials are urging anyone who feels sick or exhibits the above symptoms to stay home from work. City and county personnel, as well as unions, are calling for the state to pass more stringent protections for workers. For example, as much as 15 days of paid sick leave so that employees can safely quarantine.
Allowing employees to receive unemployment benefits while they are unable to work because of coronavirus could mitigate the financial impact for employees who do not have paid sick leave or who might have already used their paid time off (PTO) for sickness. Since the outbreak, several large corporations have announced that they will provide paid sick leave for workers who contract the virus. Walmart said it would give up to two weeks of pay; Target said it would give 14 days.
The elderly and those with underlying health conditions are at a higher risk of serious medical complications if they contract the virus. Some patients develop pneumonia, while others can suffer multi-organ failure and even death. With public safety as the top priority, it is important to note that young and healthy individuals can also carry the virus and infect less healthy friends or relatives. In some cities, such as San Francisco, residents have been ordered to shelter-in-place to slow the spread of coronavirus.
In an effort to improve workplace conditions, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was passed in 1938 so employees could maintain a quality of life for their overall health and well-being.
If an employer violates the regulations of the FLSA, investigations can cost an employer in both time and money. Companies are responsible for keeping a safe and clean working environment for their workers. In some cases, an employee may be able to file a workers’ compensation claim if he or she was exposed to and contracted coronavirus on the job.
The novel (new) coronavirus has affected tens of thousands of people across the globe, from minor to severe cases. If any of your employees have contracted coronavirus, you need to understand their legal rights regarding sick leave. The Miller Law Firm, P.C. is well-versed in the latest changes to Illinois laws that affect business owners. That is why it is important to speak with our knowledgeable Illinois employment law attorneys to ensure you are not violating your workers’ rights in these challenging times. Call us today at 847-995-1205 to schedule your free consultation.