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HR Snapshot: If an employee comes to work sick, can we legally send them home?

March 6, 2019 at 6:00 pm

No one wants someone coughing and sneezing at work, but, if done correctly, sick workers can legally be sent home.

Cough! Cough! Sniffle! Sniffle!

It’s flu season, and it’s something everyone who works in an office dreads – the sick co-worker sneezing, snorting and coughing all around them. And, worst of all, spreading germs!

So, in this segment of HR Snapshot, we look for the answer to the question: “If an employee comes to work sick, can we legally send them home?”

And the answer is yes. Absolutely yes! But, as always, that answers comes with some caveats.

You can send a sick employee home, but you’ll want to make sure you’re doing so consistently for visibly ill employees. In fact, it’s recommend that your company has a policy to that effect and clearly communicating that policy to your employees. That way sick employees know what is expected of them and can save themselves the trip to work.

Be aware, however, that some states require reporting time pay, so if you send a non-exempt employee home before their shift starts, or before it’s over, you may still owe them a few hours of pay. And exempt employees in all states must be paid for a full day of work, even if sent home early due to illness, if any work at all was performed that day, including work from home.

Many employers find it advantageous to offer paid sick leave so that employees who are under the weather don’t have to worry about receiving a smaller paycheck and are less likely to come in and spread their germs. They can focus on getting rest and feeling better so they can return to work healthy and productive.

Strovis Payroll & HR helps companies with all their HR needs. Since it was formed in 1998, the company has served clients in 32 states. The company shares good practice information and tips on how to better engage a workforce through this blog. 


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