Can I be forced to work sick?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can I be forced to work sick?

My boss has been working sick and got me sick. I worked the first day sick, with no option of anyone coming in for my shift. I could barely stand or breath and kept falling in and out of sleep. I may have mono/flu. I’m extremely sick today, as well and was told that my job is now on the line because I refuse to come in and try to push myself to stand and work. I can’t afford to loose my job. I was willing to give a doctor’s note but was told I had to take a leave of absence in order to accept it.Is this even legal?

Asked on September 16, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, North Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Sick leave is not required; employees can be expected and required to work through illness. If you have earned or accrued sick days, you must be allowed to use them, since such days are part of your compensation, and to not let you use them would be to illegally withhold or deprive you of some of your compensation. But if you don't have or use sick leave, then the employer does not have to let you miss work, even for illness, and could terminate you for missing work due to sickness (or require you to take a leave or absence, or put some other limitation on allowing you to call out sick, at their sole option).

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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