The Mailba.

AuthorDelogu, Nancy

Employee had COVID months ago: Is she a 'long hauler' or a leave abuser?

Q An employee said she had COVID last summer. She was out of work for three months, with pay. She came back with a note saying she could only return part time. Since then, she is routinely out sick. She now claims she has COVID again. Can I request some form of proof?--Nikkie, Florida

  1. Some state and local laws say employees don't need to always produce a doctor's note or positive test showing a COVID diagnosis. However, most states and cities allow you to seek this information. In fact, many states require you to report information about positive test results to local health authorities. Since your state requires you to do neither, your best approach is to follow your standard policy on medical leaves of absence.

    It could be that this employee has lied to you. Or, she may be one of the "long haulers" who experiences adverse effects long after the initial COVID infection. Given her history of absenteeism, she may also suffer from other medical issues that make attendance difficult. That implicates the ADA and related state laws protecting disabled workers.

    If you believe your employee has medical issues that prevent her from performing the essential functions of the position, you can ask for information and recommendations from her health care provider that will allow her to safely perform her job's essential functions. If she is unable to provide this info to support her claims, you may conclude that she is, in fact, not being truthful.

    Employees are working overtime without authorization: What can we legally do?

    Q If we tell employees not to work overtime without manager approval, do we have to pay them if they do it anyway? Also, can we legally change all clerical staff to salary positions?--Krista, Connecticut

  2. The Fair Labor Standards Act requires paying time-and-a-half for any time that nonexempt employees work beyond 40 hours in a workweek. If you tell employees not to work more than 40 hours and they do anyway, you still must pay for that extra time. However, you may discipline them for failing to follow your directions.

    Regarding your second question, I suspect you are asking whether you have to pay overtime wages to salaried clerical workers. Again, yes. You must pay overtime to anyone who works more than 40 hours in a workweek, unless they fall into one of the FLSA's exemptions. The most common overtime exemptions are for executive, professional or...

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