Ask the Experts: Can I Make a Sick Employee Come in to Work?


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Question: An employee says they’re sick, but I’m understaffed for the shift. Can I make them come into work or discipline them if they do not?

Answer: We would not recommend telling sick employees to come into work or disciplining them if they refuse. If an employee comes in sick, they could expose the rest of your workforce and your customers to the illness. Requiring sick employees to work can also create feelings of resentment, damaging employee morale and increasing turnover.

Can a company say ‘no’ when an #employee calls in sick? Here’s how companies can stay both health-minded and efficient in @RealThinkHR’s latest Ask the Experts: Click To Tweet

Aside from the risks of spreading germs and angering employees, asking sick employees to work when they don’t want to might also violate their rights. In states and localities with sick leave laws, employees with sick leave in the bank are generally entitled to use that time when they see fit, without jumping through hoops (e.g., seeking permission, getting doctor’s notes, providing lots of notice, or finding their own replacement).

Questions like these are sure to come up in any organization with employees. For a strong PRM strategy, access to certified HR professionals is essential. Trust the ThinkHR Live Advisors to be ready to answer all your clients’ HR questions. Request a consultation today to add Live Advisors to your offering.

By Laura Anderman

Laura has 8 years of HR experience, spanning public- and private-sector work in the education, transit, and insurance industries. After completing a B.A. in Asian Studies from Knox College, she received her M.A. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from University of New Haven along with graduate-level certificates in Human Resources Management and Psychology of Conflict Management. Laura enjoys fencing, baking, cross-stitching, and spending time with her husband and two cats.

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