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Did an absenteeism punishment policy kill a Wisconsin worker?

| Jul 23, 2020 | Workers' Compensation

Most full-time workers in the Milwaukee area receive a certain amount of paid sick leave every year. In theory, employees are encouraged to stay home if they are sick, both for their own health and to avoid spreading illness to their co-workers.

But some employers also have policies that penalize workers who miss too many days or show up late. These policies sometimes conflict and put workers in a difficult position — especially now that Wisconsin businesses have reopened amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

These policies generally work by assigning points or “occurrences” every time a worker misses a day or is late to work. Once a worker has accumulated enough points, they might get a verbal warning. After that, the worker could get a written warning; the punishments grow more serious, potentially including suspensions and getting fired.

While this is intended to keep workers from having unexcused absences, they can confuse workers who need to take sick time. In one case, the results were tragic.

Worker dies after going to work with COVID-19

According to the Milwaukee Independent, an employee at a local factory died of COVID-19 in May. He collapsed at work and died a few days later. It appears the man was sick for days or weeks before his death, but he did not take sick time, apparently because he believed that factory management would punish him for doing so. The man was just 45 and had eight children.

Recognizing how contagious and dangerous COVID-19 is, many businesses with absenteeism policies have agreed to modify them to encourage sick workers to stay home.

Occupational diseases deserve compensation

Illnesses developed on the job could qualify you for workers’ compensation while you recover. If you have been turned down for workers’ comp benefits you deserve, contact a workers’ compensation attorney for more information about appeals.

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