If I am Worried About Catching COVID-19 on My Commute to Work, Can I insist on Working from Home?

If you are commuting to work and are worried that you will catch COVID-19 on your commute, there is a solution. You can insist on working from home. This way, you’re not taking the risk of catching COVID-19 while commuting or at work. However, before making this big decision, it’s essential to consider all factors involved in telecommuting vs. office life, including hours, worked per week, and pay rate for each type of job.
If the employee is generally afraid of the virus, just like everyone, they have no legal defense against not going back to the office. Their employers might choose disciplinary action against them or even termination.

Exceptions

Nevertheless, some people are exceptions and can insist on working from home. These include pregnant women who have several accommodations and have two laws protecting them. These laws are the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Americans With Disability Act. These two laws have essential provisions that protect pregnant women.
The first law, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, prohibits discrimination on account of pregnancy in any aspect of employment, including hiring and firing. It also requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for employees who are temporarily physically disabled by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. It does not create an undue hardship for the employer.
Secondly, an employee is protected under ADA if she has a disability(which can be temporary). however, only if her condition substantially impairs one or more major life activities (i.e., walking, breathing, etc.)or if she had a history of such disabilities-in other words, someone with a.record of being sick would have difficulty proving this point. (therefore, stress leave might be problematic).
A woman can choose to work from home if she is afraid of COVID-19. She has to ask for it and provide medical documentation that allows her to do this or risk disciplinary actions or even termination. Her employer might have concerns about productivity, but they will get used to it after a while.
For some people working from home becomes their main office, so employers are willing to prove flexible with time spent in the workplace as long as employees complete tasks during agreed-upon times.

Factors that may hinder people from telecommuting

-lack of supervision and socialization, which is essential for some jobs.
-Some jobs can’t be done from home, including highly specialized tasks. Other workers such as truck drivers, waiters, and cashiers have to work from their respective offices.
-People are also reluctant to work from home because they feel isolated, so employers have to pay them for this lack of socialization and supervision.
-Location matters
Some geographical areas may allow their employees to
work from home while others won’t.
Before insisting on working from home, an employee must give a reason for it and a medical report of whether they have any underlying medical condition that may predispose them to the virus. In addition, it would help if you asked the employee if the company is taking the necessary precautions to safeguard against the virus. In such instances, an employer should not terminate an employee.
Furthermore, an employer should consider if the employee lives with someone at a high risk of contracting the disease. Under such circumstances, they should be allowed to work from home.
On the other hand, telecommuting brings benefits such as reducing congestion on public transport, less pollution, etc. It can also save companies money by not paying rent or heating costs in an office space that is empty most of the time. Also, it allows people who would otherwise not be able to work due to disabilities access jobs without any problems.
Employees need to get used to working from home before asking their employer about it. Otherwise, they might risk losing their job if employers are unwilling t provide accommodations.
As for employers, they should be open to the idea of working from home.
To summarise, if you are generally afraid of COVID-19 but your job doesn’t allow telecommuting consider asking for it and provide medical documentation that will enable you to do this or else risk disciplinary actions or termination. If possible, try working from the house first before asking for it.

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