Sending Sick Employees Home – What You Need to Know

What’s your sick leave policy? 

The risks associated with employees coming to work while sick are at the forefront of many employer’s minds. You know how quickly the flu – or recently, COVID-19 – spreads throughout the office. But if you’re like many people, you’re not quite sure how to send people home if they turn up to the office coughing and spluttering, but insisting they’re “fine.” 

Understanding best practices for sending sick employees home has never been more critical.

Here’s what you need to know. 

Can You Send Sick Employees Home? 

Both OSHA and the CDC say that employees should stay at home if they’re sick. If they have a fever, they should remain at home 24 hours after their fever breaks. But do you have the right to tell them to go home and rest? 

Yes, you can send sick employees home. You can also tell them not to come in for a few days. 

What happens next depends on whether they are exempt or nonexempt. Their status comes down to the individual employee and your HR practices. Remember that you can’t ask an employee to telecommute if you’re forcing them to use paid time off or paid sick days when you send them home. 


 Tip:

If your employees don’t have sick-leave or lack benefits, you can still send them home. But it’s a good idea to look into public disability payments in your state. These can be accessed in cases where the employee shows signs of COVID-19 and will supplement their lost wages. 


Follow the Rule of Fairness When Sending Employees Home 

The most critical factor in your decision to recommend an employee go home or stay home is that you always apply this equally. You need to use reasonable judgment and send people home when the situation warrants it, regardless of what else is happening. If you don’t, you risk a discrimination charge. 

If you decided to send every employee with a fever home or keep them home, then the rule needs to apply year-round and regardless of job duties. Don’t reward some employees for coming in sick while sending others home without pay. 

Ultimately, your obligation to provide a safe working environment is equally weighted with the need to support anti-discrimination laws. 

Healthy Office Culture Starts with an Illness Policy 

Your office policies on illness are likely being tested every day. However, the need to keep symptomatic employees out of the office won’t end when there’s a vaccine for COVID-19. You must provide a safe place to work – pandemic or no pandemic. 

You can send employees home, but you should use your best judgment when you do so. And if there’s a way to support them as they stay home, you should do that, too! 

Are you Looking for Top Talent? We can Help! 

At Transcend Solutions, we simplify illness by providing PTO, vacation, and sick time for all employees we place. Are you looking for new staff? Get in touch to request a new employee. 

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