In recent months, workers in industries in markets across the US and world at large have keenly felt the impacts of COVID-19. More than 40 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits due to the pandemic's economic ramifications, and those who remain employed find themselves working from home or taking precautions against the virus in their workplaces. Federal employees are no exception to the rule—which is exactly what we're discussing today.
At The Law Firm of John P. Mahoney, Esq., Attorneys at Law, PLLC, we help provide high-quality legal counsel for federal employees.
To schedule a consultation with our team or learn more about our services, contact us online or via phone at (202) 350-3881.
How Many Federal Employees Have Contracted COVID-19?
As of July, over 39,000 federal employees tested positive for COVID-19—around 1% of the total federal workforce. Of that total, 19,000 are military members, while 10,000 act as civilian employees. While we lack specific numbers, it's probably safe to say that more employees have contracted the virus since then, judging by how the number of cases in the US continues to rise.
Do Employees Who Contract COVID-19 Get Compensation?
Federal employees who contract COVID-19 while at work are eligible for workers' compensation. Since the government recognizes that it's difficult for workers to prove they contracted the virus due to their job, federal employees who must interact with members of the public consistently (police officers, first responders, public health and medical personnel, etc.) have more lax requirements for receiving worker's compensation. The government also urges federal employees in these positions to take precautions against the virus.
In an effort to make things easier for federal employees acting as parents, federal employees with school-aged children can take two weeks of partially paid leave if their child's daycare or school is unavailable due to COVID-19.
Workers who contract COVID-19 and take time off work to recover must have a doctor's note certifying their fitness to perform their job before returning to the workplace. Employers can screen employees entering buildings for signs of COVID-19, since an individual with the virus may post a direct threat to other employees and operations in the building. Additionally, employers can ask employees if they're feeling any symptoms consistent with the virus and must ensure any tests taken are accurate before taking action.
How Is the Government Helping Federal Employees Stay Safe?
In light of COVID-19, many federal agencies have taken the same steps as technology giants such as Twitter and Facebook, allowing employees to work from home when possible.
A survey of federal workers in September found that the vast majority assume they'll continue to work from home for another three to six months—around when the next presidential term starts, or soon after.
Surprisingly, in the same survey, federal employees overwhelmingly cited their belief that politics and operations would be the deciding factors for whether or not they continued to work from home. Around 53% of respondents stated that the pandemic has a minimal or no impact on their operations, a significant increased from April when just 15% of employees agreed with that statement. It's an indicator that many agencies have smoothed out their work from home policies and operations, and federal employees are more comfortable being out of the office for an extended period of time as a result.
Employer Harassment During COVID-19
Employers cannot discriminate against employees due to their origin, race, or other protected characteristics under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
If your employer discriminates against you because of a protected characteristic you exhibit, you could have a discrimination case on your hands. At John P. Mahoney, Esq., Attorney at Law, we'll help you pursue your federal employment case and protect your rights, providing you with high-quality legal counsel throughout the entirety of your dispute.