COVID-19 Crisis Center:
My business was directed to close and the workforce cannot work remotely. Are the employees eligible for EFMLA benefits?
No. Upon receiving notice from the State to close your business, your employees are no longer able to request paid leave under the EFMLA. Employees who have already requested leave as of the ordered closure remain eligible in accordance with all applicable programs to which they are entitled to benefits.
I am an essential business and my workforce cannot accomplish essential functions remotely.
OSHA requires that you furnish a safe work environment. Compliance determined on a case-by-case basis considering the work environment. Establish and publish CV-19 workplace protocols. First and foremost, employees should be prohibited from coming to workplace if they or anyone they live with is experiencing any CV-19 symptoms. Staff that does not need to be on site should work from home. Essential onsite staff should practice social distancing– where not possible, employer should provide face masks and gloves to employees and place sanitizer strategically throughout work environment. In an office setting, require workers to keep doors closed. Limit the number of employees that can congregate in communal areas (break rooms, copy rooms etc.) at one time (based upon the size of the space). Require staff to wipe down equipment and machinery after operating. Prohibit face to face meetings whenever possible—use videoconferencing instead.
An employee working from home requests paid leave because his child’s school closed due to COVID-19. Can I require him to work or must I pay leave?
The EFMLA defines caring for a child under the age of 18 whose school is closed due to COVID-19 to be a covered event. The statute does not otherwise contain any distinction based upon the age of the child or the amount of care the employee would reasonably be expected to need to dedicate to care for the child. The employee can use leave intermittently or full time if the employee is not able to telecommute for an eligible COVID-19 related reason.
An employee notifies his supervisor that he has symptoms of COVID-19. Can I prohibit this employee from coming to the workplace?
Yes. The employer should suggest the employee request available leave to limit further exposure in the workplace. This leave should be taken in full-day increments. The employer should make other employees aware of the risk of exposure and the need for increased protective measures. Protective measures and exposure policies should be more extensive and include a deep cleaning of all areas which the infected employee had contact with during the previous two weeks. The employer should assess and implement other protective measures as reasonably applicable to the particular work environment to lower the risk of spreading COVID-19 to the employees.
An employee notifies her supervisor a household member has been diagnosed with COVID-19. Can I prohibit this employee from coming to the workplace?
Yes, If the member of the household is a child or spouse or parent, the employee could request leave under FMLA or Paid Sick Leave. Leave can be full time or in intermittent time periods.
An employee has called out of work a number of days in a row. Can I inquire as to the reason for absence before permitting the employee to come back?
Can I require employees who have taken leave to provide a physician’s note certifying fitness before permitting them to return to work?
Can an employer take the temperature of employees reporting to work as a condition of admitting them to the workplace as a means of protecting the workforce from potentially contagious coworkers?
Yes—because the CDC and various State and local governments have acknowledged community spread of COVID-19, an employer may take the temperature of employees reporting to work. Ordinarily, taking someone’s temperature is deemed a medical examination and is prohibited by the ADA. Note that even body temperature is deemed to be confidential health information of an employee and employers must appropriately safeguard such information. Employers taking the temperature of employees also need to provide adequate protection for the employee(s) administering temperature checks.
If an employee is diagnosed with COVID-19, should I communicate this to my workforce and if so, how?
The employer should make other employees aware that there was possible exposure at the workplace without revealing the specific employee’s identity.
Consider something such as:
“One of our colleagues has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
This employee was last at the workplace on ___________.
The Center for Disease Control’s website contains a list of typical COVID-19 symptoms https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html.
If you or anyone you live with are experiencing any of these symptoms, you are not permitted to come to the workplace. You may be eligible for paid leave under the federal Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act or the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act.
Contact your immediate supervisor for more details. All information provided will be kept confidential in accordance with all applicable privacy laws.”
Have Questions About Covid-19?
Submit any specific legal questions you may have that pertain to Covid-19 and we’ll do our best to answer them.