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Ask 2: If my employer sends me home for showing symptoms of COVID-19 and I’m unable to return until I test negative, am I entitled to my lost wages?

A nurse holds a sign during a demonstration outside Jacobi Medical Center to protest a new policy by the hospital requiring a doctor's note for paid sick leave, Friday, April 17, 2020, in the Bronx borough of New York.  (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
A nurse holds a sign during a demonstration outside Jacobi Medical Center to protest a new policy by the hospital requiring a doctor's note for paid sick leave, Friday, April 17, 2020, in the Bronx borough of New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

At KPRC 2, we’re dedicated to keeping Houstonians informed. As part of our Ask 2 series, the newsroom will answer your questions about all things Houston.

Question: If my employer sends me home for showing symptoms of COVID-19 and I’m unable to return until I test negative, am I entitled to my lost wages?

Answer: According to the U.S. Department of Labor, federal law generally does not require employers to provide paid leave to employees who are absent from work because they are sick with or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.

It is recommended that workplaces adopt a plan of action or policy that could permit employers to send employees home if they show symptoms of COVID-19. This policy should be communicated with employees early on to allow ample time to prepare. According to the department, this policy would determine whether employers provide paid leave to employees who are not at work.

If the leave qualifies as FMLA-protected leave, the statute allows the employee to elect or the employer to require the substitution of paid sick and paid vacation/personal leave in some circumstances, the U.S. Department of Labor states on its website.

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