COVID-19 & Your Business: Frequent Questions

Must I provide sick leave to a worker who gets the virus?

Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act’s (FFCRA), no. The FFCRA’s paid sick leave requirements expired December 31, 2020. The FFCRA had required covered employers to provide emergency paid sick leave to an employee who had been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19 and an employee who was experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking medical attention. However, an employer may voluntarily decide to provide its employees with such emergency paid sick leave.

Employees who test positive for COVID-19 may be eligible for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) if COVID-19 rises to the level of a serious health condition, as well as under state and local paid sick leave laws.

Employers may also be required to provide leave under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to workers whose disabilities may put them at high risk for complications from COVID-19 or whose preexisting mental illness or disorder is exacerbated by the pandemic. In such cases, employees may request leave or make a request to work from home as a reasonable accommodation or as an additional or altered accommodation to the employee’s existing accommodation. Employers should already have a policy in place for evaluating ADA-related requests and, as part of that policy, may place end dates on COVID-related reasonable accommodations, including leave as a reasonable accommodation.

In making leave decisions, employers should consider looking beyond the strict legal requirements and take a more business-centered approach. Overly restrictive policies and practices may result in employees prematurely returning to work and potentially infecting others. OSHA’s most recent guidance recommends adapting policies to appropriately use telework and other options to help minimize workers’ exposure risks.

Last updated April 15

These materials are made available by Jackson Walker for informational purposes only, do not constitute legal or medical advice, and are not a substitute for legal advice from qualified counsel. The laws of other states and nations may be entirely different from what is described. Your use of these materials does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Jackson Walker. The facts and results of each case will vary, and no particular result can be guaranteed.