Can I Make a Sick Employee Come in to Work?

by Mammoth Team on February 19, 2020

Question: An employee says they’re sick, but I’m understaffed for the shift. Can I make them come into work or discipline them if they do not?

Answer: We would not recommend telling sick employees to come into work or disciplining them if they refuse. If an employee comes in sick, they could expose the rest of your workforce and your customers to the illness. Requiring sick employees to work can also create feelings of resentment, damaging employee morale and increasing turnover.

Can a company say ‘no’ when an #employee calls in sick? Here’s how companies can stay both health-minded and efficient in @askmammoth’s latest Ask the Experts:Click to Tweet


Aside from the risks of spreading germs and angering employees, asking sick employees to work when they don’t want to might also violate their rights. In states and localities with sick leave laws, employees with sick leave in the bank are generally entitled to use that time when they see fit, without jumping through hoops (e.g., seeking permission, getting doctor’s notes, providing lots of notice, or finding their own replacement).

Questions like these come up — we get it. With Mammoth’s Collaborative HR, you can provide your clients with expert advice for any HR situation. Get in touch to find out more about a Mammoth partnership and add this to your offering!

By Laura Anderman

Laura has 8 years of HR experience, spanning public- and private-sector work in the education, transit, and insurance industries. After completing a B.A. in Asian Studies from Knox College, she received her M.A. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from University of New Haven along with graduate-level certificates in Human Resources Management and Psychology of Conflict Management. Laura enjoys fencing, baking, cross-stitching, and spending time with her husband and two cats.

Topics: Compliance, Best Practices, Ask the Advisors