If my sister works at a very small company and is out on extended sick leave for an eating disorder, what are her rights?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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If my sister works at a very small company and is out on extended sick leave for an eating disorder, what are her rights?

The company is 1-3 people.Does she get paid while she is out of sick leave?Does she get her job back when she returns after 4-6 weeks? She will need days off to finish her treatment, too, and will need extra flexibility for a few months. Does her boss have to allow this? Can he fire her? He also required her to work 6 days a week before this, and did not pay overtime. It seems he has been under the employment law radar for a while nd we want to make sure her job is safe.

Asked on October 19, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

She doesn't get paid for sick leave unless 1) there is a written employment contract guarantying her the pay during her leave; 2) the employer voluntarily agrees to pay; 3) she has and uses paid time off (sick or vacation days) for the absence; or 4) she applies for and receives pay through the state disability system. The law doesn't generally make employers pay employees for not working.
Her employer is not required to give her flexibility in schedulingo r work reduced hours for her treatment or condition unless a) she is eligible for, her employer is covered by (e.g. at least 50 employees withing a 75 mile radius), and she uses intermittent FMLA leave to take hours or days off as neeeded; or b) she is looking only for flexibility (e.g. to reschedule some work time; *not* to work less time in total), she makes a "reasonable accommodation" (for a medical condition or disability) request, *and* it IS reasonable--that is, the nature of her job and employment means she can do it on a different schedule (if she can't do her job other than on her current schedule, for example, the employer does not need to accommodate her; it's not "reasonable" for an employer to not be able to get the work the employee was hired for done). If she does miss work, leave early or come in late, etc. without using FMLA leave, a valid reasonable accommodation request, using PTO for her absences, or employer approval of the shift/scheduling/hours/etc. change, then she could be fired for absenteeism and/or for not following employer instructions.

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