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Mar 05
Coronavirus and Sick Leave

Flu A…Flu B…COVID-19.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) expects flu activity to be at high levels through March and are now saying that businesses, schools, and households should begin preparations for the coronavirus. Among the CDC's recommendations to help minimize the spread of these serious illnesses is for people to stay home when they are sick.

There are several factors to consider when dealing with employees who are sick in quarantine or have family members who are sick. In addition to any paid time-off you may offer, there are several regulatory requirements to consider. You may often have to manage multiple laws at the same time.

Large employers (50 or more employees):

  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA): FMLA provides qualified employees up to 12 weeks (in most cases) of unpaid job- and benefit-protection, which usually runs concurrently with any paid time off. There are very strict requirements for employers to follow regarding notification, tracking and documentation to stay in compliance, so timely response and accurate tracking are crucial.
  • State family and medical leave laws: Some states have laws similar to FMLA, which may have different parameters, including longer leave times and different look-back periods. These run concurrently with FMLA.

Mid-size employers (15 or more employees):

  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA): These laws require employers to offer reasonable accommodation such as a leave of absence to employees who are disabled, even if temporarily.

All or most employers:

  • State and local sick leave laws: While there is no federal law mandating sick time, 11 states and several other cities and counties have implemented such laws covering most employers with variations in the amount of time and if it is paid or unpaid.
  • State paid disability leave: Some states have paid disability laws to cover employees for extended absences. These are usually run through the state, but employers must notify employees of the benefit and may need to assist them with paperwork.

Consider requiring employees to stay home if they are sick to protect the rest of your employees. Another consideration is to allow sick employees to work from home until they are symptomless.

If you find yourself having to address an employee's long-term absence due to illness, reach out to Affinity HR Group, a Big “I" Hires partner, to walk through your options and requirements. 


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