Legal Guide

Your Legal Rights While Working During The Coronavirus Outbreak

The coronavirus is closing down on businesses and companies big and small, causing massive disruptions in different industries. In the middle of all the fear and chaos, workers are asking about their legal rights while working during the outbreak. Do they have the right to stay at home? Can they take leaves till this outbreak is over?

Can You Work From Home

This depends on the work you do. If you can work remotely at home, then you're entitled to get your regular pay. Jobs that may be allowed to work at home include customer service personnel, accountants, bookkeepers, consultants, programmers, copywriters, editors, and event planners, to name a few.

But if your work in the service and manufacturing industry like restaurants, retail outlets, factories, and health care facilities, working from home may be impossible. Some employers may require their workers to secure paid or unpaid leaves to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This is common if the employee recently traveled to a high-risk area or if the business is located in a state with a high number of infections.

If you are asked to remain home to work, or if you want to stay at home to protect yourself, your pay and other benefits will depend on different factors.  

Can You Take Leaves?

The Family and Medical Leave Act or FMLA states that an employee is entitled to 12 weeks of job-protected unpaid leaves every year in case of medical reasons. An employer may even offer a six months unpaid leave.

This is the same for paid leaves despite federal law not requiring business owners to provide paid leaves. Because of the coronavirus outbreak, many employers offered workers employees additional leave benefits.

If your employer forces you to take time off from work because of the coronavirus, you may be asked to use all your remaining paid leaves before you take unpaid leaves. Talk to your employer or get updated information from your human resources department.

If you are asked to take a leave, stay at home and avoid unnecessary travel. You can have your meals, groceries, and health products delivered to your home to prevent spreading the virus. Visit for more information about the latest deals and discounts on health, food, and drinks.

Additional State And Local Law Employee Rights

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act states that covered workers can take 12 weeks of unpaid or job-protected leaves in a year because of a medical reason.

The FMLA also covered employers with 50 or more workers for 20+ weeks on the current or the preceding year. To qualify for the FMLA leave, workers must have been with the company for 12 months or 1250 hours average of work (24 hours of work a week) in the previous year.

If you tested positive for COVID-19, you would qualify for 12 weeks of leave in the FMLA. If you have a family member affected with coronavirus and you handle his care, you can get up to 26 weeks' leave in 12 months. If you have concerns about getting infected at work and for qualification under FMLA, talk to your human resource rep.

Disability Benefits

If you acquired coronavirus while on a business trip or from your workplace, workers' compensation may apply, under work comp laws, regular diseases like the flu or the cold are not compensable even if you get theses from your fellow employee. But if your profession makes you more vulnerable to contacting coronavirus then you might be eligible for workers' compensation. Jobs that qualify are doctors, nurses, other health care workers, flight attendants, and police officers.

The coronavirus outbreak is a very unusual medical condition with widespread, deadly results. In most cases, it is unclear as to the overall effects of this virus on workers and different industries. Talk to your employer or your human resource department if you have questions specific to your company's employee rights during this outbreak. 


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