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Know your rights: HR expert answers questions about returning to work

13News took some of your questions to human resources for answers about returning to the office.

INDIANAPOLIS — As businesses work to reopen amid the pandemic, some Americans said they aren't comfortable returning to the workplace until there's a COVID-19 vaccine.

So 13News took some of your questions and concerns to a human resources expert for answers.

Q: If I've been furloughed or working remotely, can I refuse to return to my workplace?

 A:  "Yes and no," said Robert Sean Manning, CEO of Payroll Vault, a national payoll services and HR company. "If the employer's done all the proper things to invite you back, generally speaking you can't refuse unless there's a reason it feels unsafe."

The Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act protects employees from retaliation in certain circumstances if they feel work would put them in an "imminent danger" situation. But keep in mind, Payroll Vault said so far, no court has ruled COVID-19 an "imminent danger."

"If they (employers) have done the best they can to invite (employees) back to a safe work environment, (employees) could be terminated if they refuse to come back to work," said Manning.

RELATED: US signs contract with Pfizer for 100 million COVID-19 vaccine doses

Q: Can I be fired for refusing to wear a mask at work?

A: Yes.

"Probably the best way to look at masks today is it's almost part of your uniform or safety equipment in the workplace," said Manning.

The only exception: if you have a medical reason for not wearing one. And be prepared to have a doctors note to back it up.

Q: Can my employer take my temperature? Are they allowed to do that?

A: "This is an interesting one. Four months ago, no," said Manning. "Generally right now, you can do that in the workspace (but) it has to be strictly related to the COVID-19 management."

Because the CDC and other health officials acknowledge the community spread of COVID-19 , employers are now allowed to monitor body temperatures. The results just have to be kept confidential.