Employers not required to give doctors, nurses COVID-19 sick pay

Nurses not being paid for COVID leave

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - The pandemic has shined a light on the heroes healthcare workers are. But what happens when they get sick with COVID-19?

A woman who works as a nurse at the assisted living facility, HarborChase of Huntsville, is not receiving COVID-19 pay after testing positive. But they are not required to pay it.
A woman who works as a nurse at the assisted living facility, HarborChase of Huntsville, is not receiving COVID-19 pay after testing positive. But they are not required to pay it. (Source: WAFF)

The federal government has been giving some companies money to cover the salaries of certain employees who test positive for COVID-19.

But the act specifically states nurses and doctors do not have to be paid this.

“Still coughing, still trying to stay hydrated. Still worried. My blood pressure, still trying to monitor my blood pressure,” Sylvia Oden said.

Sylvia Oden tested positive for COVID-19 last Monday.

She’s been working as a nurse for 20 years and at the assisted living facility, HarborChase of Huntsville, since June of 2019.

“I love my residents. You can talk with any, they love me. For nine months we haven’t had the virus in our facility and then when it did hit, it hit really hard,” Oden said.

The company she works for is not required to provide her COVID-19 pay while she’s missing work in quarantine.

That’s because of two reasons: Companies that have more than 500 employees do not receive funding from the government under the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act.

And even if HarborChase had fewer employees, first responders and healthcare workers like Oden are excluded from being required to be covered.

“They say that we are heroes, but they’re not treating us like the heroes. As you see by looking at the law, we’re excluded. And we should be the number one protected,” Oden said.

Oden says she would have to use her PTO and sick time to make up the hours, however, she’s already used those hours up.

Harbor Retirements Associates LLC sent us this statement.

As a company we have a benefits program which includes paid time off for vacation and sick time.

For confidentiality purposes we cannot discuss the specifics of how or when an individual decides to use their paid time off. We treat our associates in a fair and consistent manner, following the laws that govern our industry and employment practices.

Our community makes every effort to provide high quality care, compassion and safety for all of our associates and residents in a safe and dignified environment. It is our mission to continue to serve seniors with dignity, respect and compassion in all that we do.

At HarborChase, it is both our practice and our promise always to operate, first and foremost, in the interests of our associates, residents, their families, and the general public, and to take all measures reasonable and necessary to protect their lives, their dignity and their privacy.

We are an organization that is built on servant leaders who maintain the highest level of esteem for our associates, residents, and their families by serving them with empathy, love, kindness and respect.

If you believe you are entitled to COVID pay and your employer is not giving it to you, you’re encouraged to contact the state Wages and Hour Division Office in Birmingham at (866) 487-9243.

To read more about the requirements of the act, click here.

Another thing, the federal funding for COVID pay expires December 31.

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