At ReedGroup, we manage employee leaves of absence, so we are acutely aware that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is causing huge disruption for most employers. ReedGroup will continue to offer its clients coronavirus guidance as developments arise in the coming days and weeks.
As COVID-19 cases rise rapidly in the United States, administrative agencies have begun releasing state-specific guidance to workers and businesses facing disruptions in employment and operations. California has been particularly proactive, issuing detailed COVID-19 guidance through multiple employment agencies.
The California Labor Commissioner’s Office issued FAQs addressing employee use of paid sick leave for reasons related to COVID-19 illness. The guidance emphasizes that paid sick leave can be used for absences not only due to illness, but also for absences related to the diagnosis of a health condition such as COVID-19 or preventative care for the employee or his or her family member. Importantly, the guidance clarifies that preventative care “may include self-quarantine as a result of potential exposure to COVID-19 if quarantine is recommended by civil authorities” or “where the worker has traveled to a high-risk area.”
Other key takeaways for California employers and employees include:
- Employers may not force employees to use or exhaust paid sick leave during a period of quarantine.
- Employers may require employees to disclose prior or intended travel to areas the CDC has identified as high-risk for coronavirus exposure.
- Employers must continue to follow federal and state labor laws governing reporting pay and compensation for employees who cannot work due to interruptions in operations or a shortage of work related to the coronavirus.
California’s Employment Development Department (EDD) has issued its own FAQs discussing what state benefits may be available to those affected by coronavirus, including disability insurance benefits, paid family leave benefits, and/or unemployment benefits. The EDD’s guidance makes clear that quarantined workers will qualify for state disability benefits if the quarantine “is certified by a medical professional or a state or local health officer.” It also suggests that workers caring for a quarantined (but not ill) family member may qualify for paid family leave benefits.
Other states have published similar guidance interpreting their state-specific leave laws as applied to the circumstances arising from the coronavirus pandemic. To stay informed about new guidance as it’s released, subscribe to ReedGroup’s blog and visit our Coronavirus Update page.
Information provided on this blog is intended for general educational use. It is not intended to provide legal advice. ReedGroup does not provide legal services. Consult an attorney for legal advice on this or any other topic.