QUESTION: A staff member has been off for more than a total of 12 weeks. She has been providing doctor’s notes that state due to her health conditions she should not report to work due to COVID-19. She was paid for 12 weeks and now is being paid from her PTO. How much more flexible can we be before terminating?
Question from Athens, Ohio subscriber
ANSWER: You are only required to provide 12-weeks of job-protecting leave. After the 12 weeks of protection, there is no longer coverage under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).
Unless the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to the situation, you no longer have to continue to provide paid leave.
When the employee is asking for additional time off due to their health condition, the request counts as an accommodation under ADA.
In these cases, you have to have a discussion with the employee. Review how much time they need. You should honor a reasonable request such as a week or two. But if they need off for an indefinite period of time, you don’t have to provide that. COVID PTO Employee Discharge.
Many court cases have supported the employer when a time-off request becomes too much of a hardship. It’s always a risk to terminate an employee, but with good communication and talking to the employee about the issue, you can defend your decision to terminate.
You should explain that your practice really can’t function without the position being in the office and that you need to find a replacement who can do that. Your considerations can even suggest that the employee could be eligible as a rehire in the future.COVID PTO Employee Discharge.
If you are like most practices, you have a ton of additional employee-related compliance questions such as can you make employees use PTO if they miss work due to COVID-19, how high does an employee’s temperature need to be to send them home, and more.
Get all your COVID-19 employment policy questions answered during the expert-led online training “Stop Practice Penalties, Comply with New COVID-19 Employment Laws,” by healthcare and employment attorney, Kelly Holden, Esq.COVID PTO Employee Discharge.
COVID-19 Resources For Your Medical Practice
|FFCRA: Protect Your Practice from COVID-19 School Closure Paid Time Off Lawsuits
||Protect Your Practice from Costly Employee Termination Lawsuit
||Keep More PPP Money with Proven Forgiveness Application Tactics|