Ask The Lawyer By: Daniel A. Gwinn, Esq. – Without Pay Because of a Fever?

Image by Gundula Vogel from Pixabay

Image by Gundula Vogel from Pixabay 


QUESTION: When I go to my job each day, I have to have my temperature taken before I’m allowed in. Last week, I had a temperature (100.1 degrees, nothing much), and I was told to go home and not come back until I had taken a test for COVID-19. Needless to say, my work is not paying me for my time off, and they aren’t ponying up for the test either. If they won’t pay, can’t I go back to work?

ANSWER:     Sending you home for a fever, without more, may be a bit of overkill but it is not illegal. Under a Michigan law enacted last December, an employee who displays one of the “principal symptoms” of COVID-19 cannot report to work until he or she has received a negative test, or has completed a period of quarantine recommended by a health care professional and the worker’s COVID-19 symptoms have improved and, in a case like yours where fever was reported, “24 hours have passed since the fever subsided without the use of fever-reducing medication.”

Fever is considered a principal symptom of COVID-19, along with shortness of breath, uncontrolled cough and abdominal pain, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell, muscle aches, severe headache, sore throat and vomiting – if not explained by a “known medical or physical condition.”

While you may have to take time off, until you can prove you don’t have the virus (or are feeling a lot better), your employer isn’t allowed to discharge, discipline or retaliate against you because you were forced to stay home.

Michigan law does not require your employer to pay for your COVID-19 test – although most insurers are covering tests for free – nor does it require your employer to pay you for your time off, unless you have sick time available under a work policy.

Federal law does not require your employer to give you time off, but it does provide an incentive – in the form of a tax credit – to do so. Under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) approved March 11 by President Joe Biden, employers can receive a credit if they voluntarily provide an employee  up to 80 hours of paid sick time, or up to 12 weeks of paid emergency family medical leave provided

  • The worker is subject to a federal state or local quarantine or isolation order;
  • has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine;
  • is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis, or who is waiting the results of a COVID test if the employee has been exposed and the employer has requested the test, is obtaining a COVID vaccine, or is recovering from an illness related to receiving the vaccine;
  • is caring for someone who is in quarantine;
  • is caring for a child whose school, daycare or child care is closed due to COVID.

Whether your employer will decide to take the tax credit and give you paid time off is up to him or her.

The lawyers at GWINN LEGAL PLLC are experienced attorneys and are happy to answer your questions. Give us a call for a free initial telephone consultation about your legal needs. For consideration of your questions in our web column, please submit your inquiry on the “Contact Us” page of our website at

Information provided on “Ask the Lawyer” is current as of the date of publication. Laws and their interpretation are subject to change. The material provided through “Ask the Lawyer” is informational only; it should not be considered legal advice. Submitting a question to “Ask the Lawyer” does not create an attorney-client relationship between the person submitting the question and GWINN LEGAL PLLC. To view previous columns, please visit our website.

By: Daniel A. Gwinn, Esq.
Attorney and Counselor at Law
900 Wilshire Drive, Suite 104
Troy, MI 48084
(248) 970-0310
(248) 970-0311 facsimile
[email protected]


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