April 15, 2020
Authored by: Christy Phanthavong and Lily Kurland
The call to HR is becoming more common: I have COVID-19. Should I go on a leave of absence, and if so, will I be paid while I am out?
It is clear that an employee who has tested positive for COVID-19 (or who is likely positive based on symptoms and/or exposure) should remain away from the workplace so as to avoid spreading the disease. What can sometimes be less clear is what leave entitlements apply to the employee, and whether the employee will be paid for all or some portion of the leave. When faced with these questions, employers should consider the following:
Leave Entitlements Under Federal Law
For employers covered by the new Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”), an eligible employee may be entitled to up to 80 hours of Paid Sick Leave, if the employee is unable to work (including telework) due to either:
- Having COVID-19 and being advised by a healthcare professional to self-quarantine; or
- Having symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a diagnosis from a healthcare professional.
Importantly, this leave is both job-protected and paid (subject to caps, although employers may permit employees to supplement these wages with other available accrued paid leave). Of course, some employees who have COVID-19 are asymptomatic or have only mild symptoms and are able to keep working (remotely). In these cases, the FFCRA does not apply. Click here for our latest blog posts on the FFCRA.
The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) may