“An employee called me to say he might have been exposed to COVID-19 over the weekend. What should I do?”

Your HR Survival Tip

Many people are confused about time off related to COVID-19. As calls from employees reporting possible exposure are increasing, companies are realizing they aren’t quite sure what they can or should do. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) provides emergency paid sick leave but only if the employee qualifies.

Typically, to qualify for FFCRA paid sick leave, the employee must have symptoms and is seeking a diagnosis. Here are a few scenarios:

  • Bob has symptoms and decides to quarantine himself for 2 weeks but does NOT seek a medical diagnosis or advice from a doctor.
    • Generally, this will be unpaid time off but Bob could use any accrued sick leave.
  • Bob has symptoms and seeks a medical diagnosis or advice from a doctor.
    • Bob will be eligible for FFCRA emergency paid sick leave for up to 2 weeks.
  • Bob has no symptoms but believes he has been exposed recently and plans to self-quarantine.
    • Until Bob is showing symptoms, this will be unpaid or accrued sick time off.
  • Bob has no symptoms but has a doctor’s note stating he should quarantine himself because he lives with an at-risk family member.
    • Bob will be eligible for FFCRA emergency paid sick leave for up to 2 weeks but, after that, he’ll be on unpaid time off.

You are not allowed, due to privacy laws, to let other employees know Bob has symptoms or believes he may have been exposed. Instead, you inform Bob’s close coworkers that “an employee” has symptoms of COVID-19 and is on leave. Yes, they will likely figure out it was Bob but it shouldn’t come from you. Remind the coworkers they should inform you and not come in to work if they develop symptoms.

It’s important to obtain the proper information from employees when paying the emergency paid sick leave. The reimbursements are a tax credit and you need the right backup for the IRS. Ask us for the certification you’ll need from each eligible employee.

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>





This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.