Q. Flu season is coming and we are concerned. If employees have the flu or show flu symptoms, can we require them to stay home long enough to make sure they are no longer contagious? Would we have to pay them for time away?
A. You are free under the law to set work hours for your employees. Neither federal nor Minnesota laws would prohibit you from requiring an employee to stay home in this circumstance.
However, this approach could be risky, so it might be prudent to explore other options first. In most instances, the flu does not qualify as a disability under state or federal laws, but it’s never a good idea for an employer to engage in amateur diagnoses.
Before requiring an employee to stay home, you might want to focus on an approach that would encourage employees to be respectful of their co-workers and stay at home while ill or contagious.
If the circumstances are such that you feel that requiring an employee to stay home is necessary, the leave may be unpaid. Follow your sick leave or paid-time-off policies. If the leave ends up being unpaid, it is possible that the employee would be entitled to unemployment.
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