Employee says company denied paid time off for quarantine

Gavel on sounding block
Gavel on sounding block(Source: Gray News)
Updated: Aug. 14, 2020 at 9:46 AM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Can your boss deny you paid time off for quarantine? That’s the question one company employee was trying to answer.

We’re told the employee (who wanted to remain anonymous in this story) had been exposed to the virus when someone else who worked at the company tested positive. So, the employee likewise went to get tested and self-quarantined until the results came in. The employee’s test was negative.

We’re told the company, however, refused to pay the employee for the quarantine days because the employee did not receive “rapid testing.”

Huntsville Attorney Mark McDaniel says the company may have a right to refuse this payment.

“The law says [the employee] can get the paid sick leave if [the employee] has COVID-19 or has symptoms of COVID-19,” says McDaniel. “It would be up to the company, but by law, [the employee] might not be able to get [the employee’s] paid sick leave because [the employee] did not have COVID-19, or {the employee] did not have symptoms such as dry cough, sneezing, fever...”

Depending on the situation, McDaniel says an employee might be able to still get paid with help from the Department of Labor, which the employee in this story did.

Still, though companies may have a legal right to refuse payment in certain situations, McDaniel’s advice to any boss is to try to do right by employees.

“You may not have to specifically do something, but this thing’s going to pass. And employees are going to remember how you responded to them during this time,” says McDaniel. “So, you can nitpick, or you can say, ‘Okay this thing’s going to be over, and the employees and the community… people are going to look at how we responded to this.’”

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