Are Businesses Required to Provide Paid Sick Leave For COVID?
The guidelines for those who are infected versus those who have been exposed are different.
Answer by Kara Govro, Chief HR Legal Expert
Are businesses required to provide paid sick leave to employees who test positive for COVID and have to quarantine? originally appeared on Quora, the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
Let’s start with a clarification – someone who has COVID is going to isolate, while someone who is exposed to a COVID is (maybe) going to quarantine. It may seem like semantics – because it is! – but the guidelines for those who are infected versus those who have been exposed are different, so it’s important to know which is which.
In either case, there’s no federal law that requires employees be paid to stay home for either isolation or quarantine. The federal program that provided emergency paid sick leave and emergency FMLA earlier in the pandemic ended on September 30 of 2021. However, a number of state and local laws require that employers provide paid time off either specifically for COVID-related reasons or for any type of illness, so employers should be checking for those kinds of state and local laws.
Even if an employer isn’t subject to any laws that require employees to be paid when they need to isolate or quarantine, they should seriously consider paying them anyway. In many cases, the alternative may be that the sick employee chooses to come to work rather than lose income, and with omicron being as contagious as it is, this could lead to workplace outbreak that could seriously disrupt your operations.