The number of confirmed positive cases of Coronavirus Disease 2019, COVID-19, in the United States continues to rise. Last week, Minnesota reported its first confirmed case, with additional cases reported since that time. While there are several resources to help understand COVID-19, its symptoms, treatment, and best practices to avoid infection, one practical question remains: what happens to my job if I contract the coronavirus?
Although the symptoms of COVID-19 have been reported as flu-like, COVID-19 may be considered a serious health condition depending on the circumstances. Accordingly, if you contract COVID-19, or if you are taking care of a family member with COVID-19, you may be permitted to take protected leave under the Family Medical Leave Act, depending on your employer. However, employees who refuse to come to work out of fear of contracting COVID-19 would not typically qualify for that leave.
Minnesota has additional statutory protections. If you are a qualifying Minnesota employee and do contract COVID-19 and are quarantined—or need to care for a child, disabled, or vulnerable adult who is quarantined—your employer cannot terminate, discipline, or otherwise retaliate or discriminate against you.
If you are ill but do not have a confirmed case of COVID-19, check with your employer about the company’s sick leave policies. Most companies will likely show flexibility in their policies under the circumstances, rather than having a sick person at work.
If you believe you are being treated unfairly at work due to the virus, we are happy to answer your questions.