I was forced to use all my sick leave on furlough, so what happens when I return to work?

By | July 12, 2020

I work for a private school and was placed on furlough in mid-March. Prior to collecting unemployment, the school required us to use all of our accumulated sick time (I had seven weeks). This was termed legal, but doesn’t seem fair since we had nothing to do with closing, and now with the fall reopening we no longer have sick time to use. Do we have any recourse?

In general, yes, employers may demand the use of vacation/paid time off (PTO) and also restrict its use where there are no legal restrictions, such as state and local paid sick leave laws. That said, employees covered by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act may not be required to take their personal paid time off before using the emergency sick time provided under the law. Also, ask your employer when you will begin to accrue more sick time and what their plan is for dealing with paid time off in the fall. They may have a remedy they just haven’t shared yet.

I was downsized in April. After purchasing my own health-care plan, I had a recent dental checkup, and was charged an additional fee for the office’s PPE. Could I have refused this based on my unemployed status?

I think dentists secretly are sadists and love to inflict pain. “Does this hurt? Does it hurt now? How about now?” And charging an additional fee for personal protective equipment is a dubious practice. Lots of businesses are struggling financially and as a result some may increase prices for their goods and services, but refusing to pay the additional fee based on your employment status isn’t relevant. Imagine how out of control (and creative) people could get if being unemployed were a legitimate reason for not paying for things. However, if they didn’t make the additional fee known before you sat in their chair, then you can simply refuse to pay for anything other than for their services. If they made the additional fee known and you agreed ahead of time, you need to pay, and then perhaps find a kinder, gentler dentist.

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Gregory Giangrande has over 25 years of experience as a chief human resources executive. E-mail your questions to GoToGreg@NYPost.com. Follow Greg on Twitter: @greggiangrande and at GoToGreg.com, dedicated to helping New Yorkers get back to work.

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