As the U.S. COVID-19 outbreak continues, many employers are continuing to consider about what steps they might need or want to take to manage the impact in their workplace, including increasing telework arrangements.

Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), an employee qualifies for paid sick time if the employee is unable to work (or unable to telework) due to a need for leave because the employee:

  • is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
  • has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19;
  • is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
  • is caring for an individual subject to an order described in (1) or self-quarantine as described in (2);
  • is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) for reasons related to COVID-19; or
  • is experiencing any other substantially-similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of Labor and Treasury.

An employee qualifies for expanded family leave if the employee is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) for reasons related to COVID-19.

The DOL recently issued regulations pertaining to the FFCRA requiring certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19.

In doing so, the DOL clarified that a state or local shelter-at-home order does in fact qualify as an “isolation” order for purposes of the FFCRA’s paid sick leave entitlements.  That being said, the employee still must be “unable to work” as a result of the isolation order, meaning that employees who are able to telework will not be eligible for FFCRA paid sick leave or paid expanded FMLA solely because they are subject to a stay-at-home order. Likewise, employees who are furloughed or laid off are not “unable to work” due to COVID-19 reasons, because there is no work available for them. Thus, they will not be eligible for FFCRA leave either, although they may be eligible for unemployment benefits.

Whether temporary telework is a viable option for you, the employee, depends in part on the work you are performing. Work that cannot be performed remotely on an ongoing basis could still be suitable for telework on a temporary basis.

To discuss whether your employer has requested changes to your employment status that are reasonable under the law, contact the Law Offices of Eric A. Boyajian today.