My work is not essential, but they are requiring me to come in, do I have to?

202005.05
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If you work for an employer who’s requiring you to come into work, but you don’t think that they’re an essential business, then if you don’t show up, you’re not going to get paid, and you might jeopardize your job.

The better approach to this would be every local government at the city and county level has established a way for you to contact them and to make a complaint about whether your employer is considered essential or not.

For example, here in Winnebago County, the Winnebago County Health Department has set up an email address, and you can actually email them or call them to make a complaint that your employer is operating when you don’t think they’re essential. According to the governor’s shelter order, the county then will investigate, and if they agree, they’ll issue what’s called a cease letter telling the employer they need to shut down. If the employer then shuts down, you don’t have to report to work.

Now, keep in mind if you don’t have to report to work, you might actually be entitled to up to two weeks of emergency sick pay under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. If you aren’t entitled to that because it only applies to some employers, you are able to use your accrued vacation or sick time or other paid time off, and after that, you may be entitled to unemployment benefits, as well. So, the best approach is not simply to not go into work, but instead file a complaint if the business is shut down because they’re not essential. You might be entitled to get paid during that shutdown.