COVID-19 & Your Business: Frequent Questions

When is an employee eligible for paid sick leave under the EPSLA because he or she is “subject to a federal, state, or local COVID-19 quarantine or isolation order”? (29 C.F.R. §§ 826.10, 826.20(a)(2))

The DOL’s regulations specify that a “quarantine or isolation order” includes containment, shelter-in-place, and stay-at-home orders, and orders that designate categories of citizens to shelter in place, stay at home, isolate, or quarantine, where those orders cause employees to be unable to work. The regulations clarify that an employee is only entitled to take leave under the EPSLA for this qualifying reason if, but for being subject to the order, the employee would be able to perform work that is otherwise allowed or permitted by the employer. If an employer does not have work for an employee as a result of a quarantine or isolation order (or other circumstance), the employee is not entitled to take leave for this qualifying event.

To clarify this point, the DOL offered the following example:

If the closure of a coffee shop was substantially caused by a stay-at-home order because its customers are being required to stay at home, the reason the coffee shop cashier is unable to work would be because those customer were subject to the stay-at-home order—not because the cashier was subject to the stay-at-home order. Also, if the order forced the coffee shop to close, the reason for the cashier being unable to work would be because the coffee shop was subject to the order, not because the cashier was subject to the order.

Last updated April 9

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