WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – People coming down with COVID-19 these days have a hard decision to make — do you stay home for possibly up to two weeks sick and lose out on pay or do you go to work sick and risk infecting others?
COVID-19 cases are on the rise across the country but unlike when the pandemic numbers were increasing last year. federal requirements for employers to offer COVID-19 paid time off have since expired leading many people to question whether the lack of protection is leading to an increase in cases.
Employees often are faced with difficult choices like calling out and missing out on a paycheck or going to work despite the risk.
The federal government has not extended any additional mandates despite the increase of cases due to the Delta variant but some employers have taken additional actions to keep their workers safe. The City of Wilmington extended COVID leave until the end of June this year when cases were less prevalent.
At New Hanover County, things are a bit different as County Commissioners approved additional paid time off for employees in April, but that extension could be ending as soon as Sept. 30.
Now that the virus is once again spiking, Wilmington’s Assistant Director of Human Resources Clayton Roberts says the city has not reimplemented any additional time off but employees are at least having their jobs protected.
“Anytime someone comes down with COVID, tests positive and they are quarantining, we automatically put them on FMLA. which basically provides job protection for employees for up to 12 weeks,” he said. “While they are on FMLA, they do have to use their own accruals but basically, the city can’t take any adverse actions against them while they are out being treated for this medical condition, which is COVID-19.”
It’s not just Wilmington employees who are eligible for FMLA protection. Even if you have used up all of your sick time and come down with the virus, there is a good chance you can apply for FMLA to prevent job loss due to missing work.
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