What are your rights as an employee during the coronavirus pandemic? We asked an expert

What rights do you have as an employee? We asked an expert

ATLANTA — Across metro Atlanta, workers are worried about their jobs and have questions about their rights amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Channel 2′s Michael Seiden spoke with an employment lawyer to try to get answers.

Many Channel 2 Action News viewers have reached out to us in the last week about whether employers have the right to make them come in to work. Even at Channel 2, most employees are working form home.

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But we know that isn't the case for many of you.

Sheri Oluyemi is an Atlanta attorney who specializes in employment law. Seiden Skyped with her about the concerns about how the virus is impacting people's jobs.

One of the biggest questions we get? Can an employer require an employee to use their banked paid time off in lieu of sick leave?

"They can require employees to use their banked time before they use other types of leave, including unpaid leave," Oluyemi said.

Employees also won't necessarily get fired if they refuse to show up to work, under the right circumstances.

"Are they not attending because they have their own serious medical condition, or because they are caring for a family member who has a serious medical condition?" Oluyemi said. "In those circumstances, the employee's job would be protect by the Family Medical Leave Act."

We've also gotten a lot of questions about whether employers have to keep paying employees if the business shuts down.

Oluyemi said that if if the employee is a non-exempt, hourly employee, then under the Federal Labor Standards Act, employers can just ask you to stay home and they aren't required to pay them. If

"If your employee is exempt, meaning they have more a more managerial role and they're usually on a salary, you can also stop paying them if they aren't coming to work, but there are more nuances," Oluyemi said.

President Trump has signed a coronavirus emergency aid package into law, which is expected to give many American workers paid leave if they need to take time off because of the virus.