Whenever an employee is out sick for various time periods, supervisors often become upset since others must handle the absentee person’s workload. When this type of situation persists, a number of workers’ daily lives can be compromised by excessive duties. It's at this point that some companies start wondering if they can force the ailing worker to leave or quit.

Of course, it’s always best if a certain degree of understanding or compassion is shown to the employee, assuming s/he is truly ill. Furthermore, you'll often be treading on dangerous ground if you try to force someone to leave your employ due to that person's serious illness (or that of a family member s/he is helping).

Be sure to remind all of your supervisors and human resource professionals of the following employee rights that must be respected under these types of circumstances. As you may soon discover, you may need to hire a dependable temp worker until the ailing employee or caregiver can return to work on a regular, daily basis.

Laws/Other Factors Affecting An Employer’s Right to Dismiss A Sick Employee

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). If your employee has an illness that falls under the ADA, you usually cannot simply fire the person for being out ill frequently due to his/her documented disability. Normally, you must provide reasonable accommodations to someone who is disabled which can possibly help minimize his/her difficulties or special challenges (and absences). Always speak with your Peachtree City business attorney before taking any negative action against such an employee. If you are sued, the damages you might have to pay can be substantial – and it's always morally wrong to treat the disabled in a thoughtless manner;

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). If you're a business owner with 50 or more people working for you, you must normally respect the rights of your employees under the FMLA. Here are some basic facts about this law that your company must bear in mind;

  • Serious health conditions covered. In general, a number of major illnesses, conditions (including pregnancy), or impairments are covered by the FMLA. Chronic illnesses and disabilities of a worker (or his/her immediate relative requiring the worker’s caregiving attention) are usually covered by the FMLA:

  • Duration of leave. In general, a worker who is qualified to take a leave of absence under the FMLA can be off up to 12 weeks during each year (12-month period) of employment. Be sure to ask your Peachtree City business attorney all of your questions about the FMLA. For example, you may need to ask whether this absence period can be broken up into two or more different absences during the 12-month time period;

  • Birth of a baby. Both the mother and father can usually obtain a leave of absence tied to the baby's birth – assuming the company is legally required to honor the FMLA. Of course, workers should give some serious thought to the realities of their jobs – in terms of how long they really should stay away – even if it is “legal.”

General Workers’ Compensation Laws

Normally, your state’s workers’ compensation laws will prohibit you from firing a worker who was injured on the job and is currently away from work while obtaining medical care, rehabilitation – or retraining for a new position. Always be sure to follow all of Georgia’s workers compensation statutes as fully as possible.

To obtain help with handling all of your Georgia business planning needs, please contact Shane Smith Law today.  You can schedule your free initial consultation with a knowledgeable Peachtree City estate planning attorney by calling: (770) 487-8999.

Shane Smith
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