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Can I take sick leave due to my anxiety about coronavirus?


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Read The Latest Coronavirus News Updates Globally Here: "Coronavirus Live News Updates" | Or Visit Our Full Global Statistics Page for Detailed Informations On Coronavirus Here
I work in a grocery store, and I am freaked out about the coronavirus. The anxiety is making it difficult for me to work. Is my anxiety a legitimate medical reason for taking time off? Can my employer fire me if I do?
You are clearly not alone, my friend —— this crisis is taking a toll economically and psychologically. Generally, the cause of a medical condition isn’t relevant: what matters is the condition itself. It’s likely that most employers won’t require a doctor’s note under these circumstances, but If you are unable to work because of stress, then depending on the size of your employer your medical condition and job-protected leave will be covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act and/or the New York State Paid Family Leave Act which provides for unpaid and paid protected leave for eligible workers and covered employers. Contact your employer, call a doctor and log on to for more information about your rights and your employer’s potential responsibilities.

The negative news about the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic can be frightening, but we need to stay focused so that when we come out on the other side of this — and we will — we are prepared to resume our normal activities.

For too many of you, that will mean finding a job. That process can’t wait. If you are unemployed or fear that you will be, there are things you can and should be doing right now.

In the first place, do whatever you can do within the guidelines of social distancing to remain physically and mentally healthy during these stressful times. Maintaining a positive mindset will be critical for working from home, or for conducting a successful job search.

Secondly, take this time to invest in yourself through one of the online educational resources that offer free courses to learn new skills, or upgrade existing ones, through sites like and

I will also be coordinating a consortium of HR professionals to join me in providing free résumé reviews and to answer common job search questions for unemployed New Yorkers through the Web site Look for information on this free service in this column and via Twitter and LinkedIn soon.

In the meantime, visit the New York Department of Labor at their Web site regularly, because the laws and benefits for the unemployed are constantly being updated.

I wish all of you and your loved ones safety and good health. We will get through this together.

Gregory Giangrande has over 25 years of experience as a chief human resources executive. Email your career questions to Follow Greg on Twitter: @greggiangrande. His “Go to Greg” podcast series is available on iTunes.


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