Ask the ExpertCategory: QuestionsCan an employee determine their return to work date after 10 day self-isolation?
hri_Admin Staff asked 1 year ago

Hi there,
An employee tested positive for Covid and has completed their mandatory self-isolation. They were due back to work April 08, 2021 but has notified that they will not be returning to work until May 01, 2021. As far as I know people do not get to pick their return to work date, however, given it’s Covid related I wanted to double-check if this is viable or not. To be clear, this extra time off was not mandated by Fraser Health or their doctor (no documentation has been provided to us).
Can we “order” them back to work since their isolation is over? 
Thank you

2 Answers
Glenn Demby Staff answered 1 year ago

Correct. Employees can’t choose their return date if they’re in COVID mandated self isolation. More precisely, they definitely aren’t allowed to shorten it; however, they may be able to extend it IF they have grounds for additional leave under the ESA or their contract/collective agreement. In other words, once the 14 days expires, the need for leave ends and they must return. However, something else might have happened that itself constitutes grounds for leave. Maybe a close family member got sick, for example.
Bottom Line: Ask the employee WHY he/she isn’t coming back after the 14 days. If he/she claims it’s due to another leave, require verification. If he/she doesn’t have justification, you can insist he/she return after the 14 days. Or maybe give them the option of using vacation days. But they can’t dictate when their isolation leave ends.

Ashlynn Donaldson replied 1 year ago

Thank you, Glen.

What if the employee does not provide any justification/verification for the extension? Do we have grounds for dismissal?

Glenn Demby Staff answered 1 year ago

Yes but with 2 caveats: 1. I don’t know all the facts involved. 2. This is just a personal opinion and NOT legal counsel, which I’m neither qualified nor allowed to provide you. If possible, talk to a lawyer before deciding whether to terminate the employee.