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Employees at Home on Sick Leave Aren't Entitled to "On Call" Pay

September 7, 2011
Related Topics: Employee Leave, Attendance, Featured Article
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Issue: As a city employer, you have a policy that requires your employees who are on sick or injury leave to remain at home unless they obtain permission, which you readily grant for purposes such as attending a doctor’s appointment, purchasing food, attending religious services, and exercising under medical direction. According to your employees, however, that time at home is like "on call" time, for which employees must be compensated if personal activities are severely restricted. Are your employees entitled to compensation for their time spent on sick and/or injury leave?

Answer: Your employees can’t have it both ways, ruled the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Employees aren’t entitled to "on call"-type compensation unless the employees can prove that their activities were severely restricted by the requirement that they stay at home. Why? Here were the court’s reasons:

  • Sick or injured employees are not fit to work, are not "engaged to wait" at home for work, and therefore are not working.
  • An employer may define compensable sickness or injury as a condition sufficiently severe that it requires a person to stay at home. An employee who claims to be sick or injured to that extent, and therefore unable to work, may be required to behave in accordance with the representation ("I’m too sick to work") that led the employer to grant the leave.
  • It's the physical limitations that confine the sick employee to home; all the employer does is demand that employees end their leave and come back to work when they are at last able and eager to roam about like healthy people.

Cite: Bradley DeBraska, et al. v. City of Milwaukee, 7thCir 1999, 139 LC 33,948.

Source: CCH Incorporated is a leading provider of information and software for human resources, legal, accounting, health-care and small-business professionals. CCH offers human resource management, payroll, employment, benefits, and worker-safety products and publications in print, CD, online and via the Internet. For more information and other updates on the latest HR news, check our Web site at http://hr.cch.com.

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion.

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