When Is Fear a Protected Reason for Not Coming to Work?

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As more and more employers are calling their employees back into the workplace, some employees may not want to return. Some employees have decided that they prefer working from home, while others are afraid to return to the workplace.

If an employee decides he or she simply prefers working from home, you may not have to allow this. As the employer, you have the right to determine where the work is performed. If you can show that you have complied with all appropriate measures to reduce risk of exposure in the workplace, you usually do not have to allow the employee to continue working remotely. However, exceptions to this are OSHA’s General Duty Clause, the National Labor Relations Act’s protected concerted activity protections, and the American with Disabilities Act.

If you have an employee who is afraid to return to work, you should try to understand the reason for the fear. If the employee is afraid to return to the workplace because of a disability that puts him or her or a family member in the household into a high risk category for COVID-19 but the employee can perform the essential functions of the job from home, then the employee should be allowed to continue working from home.

When Is Fear a Protected Reason for Not Coming to Work?

If you need help navigating these or other Human Resources issues, contact Shafer HR Solutions.

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