Can and should you still be paid when your employer tells you to stay home?By John Shumway

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Everyday people by the hundreds are being diagnosed with the coronavirus and facing the need to quarantine.

When that happens the immediate concern rises about making ends meet.

Do you still get paid when your employer says stay home?

Employment Law Specialist Attorney Sam Cordes says, “I’m going to talk like a lawyer for a second. It depends. For example, in Pittsburgh, for example, there is sick pay, a paid sick leave ordinance that the employer would have to have to pay for, for some period of time. Beyond that, generally under the CARES Act, if you’re off sick the employer has to pay your salary but there’s a cap on the amount. It’s $500 a week.”

Of course, there are your sick days which your employer may require you to use, Cordes says.

“Back in March and April, EEOC and the Labor Department issued regulations allowing employers to do just that,” he said.

Now if you are not sick, and haven’t been exposed but are told to stay away from your place of work out of COVID concerns Cordes says, “at a minimum, you’d be entitled to unemployment compensation in that situation, because you’re being told to not work through no fault of your own.”

Cordes says you can apply for unemployment even if it’s to cover a reduction in your hours.

WATCH: Protecting Your Paycheck

Then there’s a possibility you might be told to stay home because you traveled.

“They don’t pay for it, because I’m not sick or you know, somebody from my family came from New York City or something, you would probably be eligible for unemployment compensation,” he said.

Cordes says don’t hesitate to apply.

“If I’m off, you know for a week, I’m eligible for unemployment compensation so it doesn’t have to be a long-term situation,” he explained.

Then there is the issue of exposure in the workplace.

“If I contracted it at work. It’s a work-related injury, and that’s gonna be eligible for workers compensation payments,” Cordes points out.

Your boss may be a compassionate person but Cordes points out, “The employer has an obligation under OSHA to provide a safe workplace.”

So he says to be honest when you are asked if you’ve traveled or had out of town guests from a hot zone.

Shumway: “What if I just don’t tell my boss.”

Cordes: “It’s a direct order so to speak from the employer violating it is called insubordination.”

Shumway: “Could you be fired?”

Cordes: “Yes.”

Cordes understands people may want to avoid volunteering information that is going to get you put on the shelf for a couple of weeks.

But it’s better to be on the shelf than out the door.