Work burnt down

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Work burnt down

My work burned down and it looks like it will be a year before we have a new location. I was told my wages are covered through insurance for 180 days. They have 4 other stores and are now asking me to travel 4-5 days out of the week. The closest store is 76 miles round trip. Do I have to travel?

Asked on November 20, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Wisconsin

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

You can travel if you want to work--or you can look for a different job.  The law does not guaranty you pay if your workplace is closed (e.g due to a fire) and does not require your employer to keep paying your salary when you can't work at your location (again, such as due to a fire). You are lucky that they are giving you the option of traveling to work at another location: they do not have to do so, and could have simply terminated you.
You need to check the terms of the insurance covering your wages: insurance policies are contracts, and you are paid their benefits when--and only when--the terms of the policy, as applied to the facts of the situation, state you will be paid. If the policy terms state that you must take these relocations if offered or not be paid (e.g. that you'd be required to travel at least this distance), then you have to take them--and, of course, can and should start looking for a closer job. On the other hand, if the policy would let you decline the transfer/relocation and still get the wage benefits, that you could choose to refuse and take the insurance money. Again, it depends on the terms of the policy.
You are fortunate in that you have options: as stated, many employees don't get the option to relocate and keep working when their workplace burns down, and many also don't have insurance for wages.
 


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