HR consultant explains why employers can terminate over not wearing a mask, pandemic workplace changes

Local News

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT)– Many things are changing during this pandemic including workplace laws and protocols.

Kristina Dietrick from HR Partners in Topeka answers whether or not you can get in trouble, or even fired, for not wearing a mask at work. Since there are no workplace laws around mask-wearing, right now, and it could be considered a safety hazard, Dietrick said employers do have the right to terminate you.

“Just like safety protocols are out there with certain employers or certain industries, you have to wear a hard hat, you have to wear steel-toed boots, you have to wear a mask,” she said. “They have that right as an employer to make that a requirement. And if you so choose not to do that requirement, they can let you go.”

HR companies and jobs are also dealing with another change at the start of the year. When coronavirus hit the states, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) was started. This gave certain employers a chance to provide employees with paid sick leave or expanding family and medical leave for reasons related to Covid-19. At the start of the new year, this act expired. Meaning it’s optional for employers to pay when someone is gone related to Covid-19.

“It’s now voluntary,” Dietrick said. “So individuals who are basically off on quarantine do not get paid through the government and get tax credits back through their respective employer. So they have to use PTO or leave without pay.”

As of right now, there is no mandatory requirement to get the coronavirus vaccine when it comes to the workplace since we haven’t got through all of the phases. However, Dietrick said this could change and employers could make it a requirement down the road.

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December 31 2021 11:59 pm