March 29, 2020
- COVID Updates
- By Ornelas Law
COVID-19 And Your Work Questions
As COVID-19 impacts every one of us around the world, your job may be affected too. Have you experienced job loss due to COVID-19? Were you laid off due to COVID-19 cutbacks? What are your rights during this time? How can you provide for your family? If you are looking for answers to work-related questions regarding how COVID-19 could affect your employment, the following information could be a help to you:
“What do I do if my boss requires me to come into work during the COVID-19 epidemic but I don’t feel safe?”
ANSWER: If your job is considered essential, then you will likely have to comply with your boss’s wishes or you may risk getting terminated. You may want to ask your boss or HR department to provide you with a list of provisions and protection that ensure your safety while you’re at work.
The Federal guidelines allow the individual states and local authorities to decide which businesses are essential during this crisis. These guidelines are being updated frequently as the ongoing pandemic is being analytically tracked nationwide by the White House coronavirus task force. The best sources to find the latest updates are as follows:
Nationwide Employment Updates During Covid-19
- Center For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (nationwide)
Texas Employment Updates During Covid-19
Great Texas COVID-19 Resources
“What employee rights do I have in saying “no” to working in an office during the shelter-in-place?”
ANSWER: If there aren’t any local mandates for you to show up to work, then you are within your legal right to stay home. Of course, this is as long as you are not an essential worker. Be certain to reach out to your HR department to fully understand their expectations, their provisions and requirements for your job role. If you’re not considered to be an essential employee then ask them what their expectations are for a work-from-home opportunity and how you might be able to still be a relevant help during this time. Remember the company you work for may be struggling financially at this time due to a lack of customers. You’ll want to be as relevant as possible to their solution for helping customers find their services and buy their services/products during this time. If your current role is not as needed at this time, connect with your employer to see if you can pivot to a position that is needed and can allow you to keep your pay, benefits and status as an active employee.
“If I get exposed to COVID-19 at work, what are my legal rights?”
ANSWER: First of all, you need to report to your employer that you are having COVID-19-like symptoms immediately. Then go home and stay away from the workplace. Next, call your doctor’s office or emergency room to find where you can be tested for the virus. You can also find a list of testing locations.
In the event you were exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace, it is possible, though far from guaranteed, that workers’ compensation would apply. The compensation varies from state to state. Whenever you are ready to return to work, your employer should not treat you any differently than before your prior infection. Do you feel you have a case? Would you like to seek legal counsel? Please reach out to us directly.
“If I get fired during the COVID-19 outbreak, can I file unemployment or wrongful termination?”
ANSWER: If you’re a worker who has been impacted by the coronavirus outbreak, you might qualify for unemployment benefits, workers’ compensation benefits, or a period of paid or unpaid leave. Wrongful termination will be available if your employer fires you or lays you off due to some sort of discrimination.
Most employees who are out of work due to COVID-19 should be eligible for unemployment benefits. Unemployment benefits are available to anyone who has been laid off or fired or if their hours or earnings have been reduced by more than one-third.
How to File for Unemployment Benefits Due to COVID-19
ANSWER: You have rights during this time. If you’re now unemployed because of COVID-19 cutbacks or your place of business is closed, you may be able to file for financial assistance. Don’t wait to reach out to see if you qualify for unemployment benefits. It may take some time to get qualified and get your first check so reach out to these resources today.
Applying online: Go to the Texas Workforce Commission’s website. This page offers a tutorial on how to apply. After reading the tutorial, click on the Unemployment Benefits Services tab. This will take you to a webpage where you can create a log-in and start the application process.