Covid19 News

COVID-19 (coronavirus) Updates


Note: CDA continues to monitor pending federal legislation to address family and sick leave due to COVID-19 and will update members accordingly. The information below is based on current state and federal laws.

What if I have an employee who recently traveled abroad?
Employers should consult with legal counsel before requiring an employee who recently traveled to China or through any region where there has been an outbreak of the virus to stay home from work to ensure the employer is not violating the Americans with Disabilities Act or any local, state or federal antidiscrimination laws.

Should I update my sick leave policy?
Employers should ensure that state-mandated paid sick leave policies are compliant, flexible and consistent with public health guidance and that employees are aware of these policies. CDC also encourages employers to maintain flexible policies that permit employees to stay home to care for a sick family member and be aware that more employees than usual may need to stay home. In the event of a potential staff shortage, employers should prepare alternative staffing plans to ensure as many of their facility’s staff are available as possible.

Employees should be made aware that some of the preventive measures may result in a loss of income if an employee has exhausted paid sick time or other paid time off. 

CDC advises employers not to require a healthcare provider’s note to validate an employee’s illness because healthcare facilities may be extremely busy and unable to provide such documentation in a timely way.

The California Labor Commissioner’s Office has also developed answers to common employment law questions concerning COVID-19. 

What are the options for my employees wage replacement in the event of a practice schedule reduction or closure?

In addition to any paid sick leave or vacation benefits available to employees, California has expanded its paid family leave and disability benefits to workers affected by the COVID-19 virus. 

Wage replacement may be available to those who are certified by a medical professional to be sick with COVID-19, are caring for a family member who is certified by a medical professional to be sick with COVID-19,  or are experiencing a reduction in work hours due to office closure. 

More information is available at: https://www.edd.ca.gov/about_edd/coronavirus-2019.htm 

If our staff has agreed to assist with treating patients needing urgent care, should we document that they are comfortable working in the current environment?

As long as there isn’t a direct or imminent threat of harm to the employee and the office is complying with all OSHA and CDC guidelines for infection control, it should not be necessary to have an employee sign any documentation for continued work. You should continue to encourage sick employees and patients to stay home and you should send home anyone who arrives at the office and is exhibiting symptoms of illness.

Can we require that employees use any sick leave/PTO prior to paying them for time they are not working?

An employer cannot require the use of unused paid sick leave; only the employee can make that choice. If the employee decides to use paid sick leave, the employer can require they take a minimum of two hours of paid sick leave. The determination of how much paid sick leave will be used is up to the employee. Employers can visit the Department of Industrial Relations’ California Paid Sick Leave: Frequently Asked Questions.

If an employee does not qualify to use paid sick leave or has exhausted sick leave, other leave may be available (see question below regarding other payments available through the state). If there is a vacation or paid time-off policy, an employee may choose to take such leave and be compensated provided that the terms of the vacation or paid time-off policy allows for leave in this circumstance. Employers should review their current policies and discuss with employees.

Can we allow employees to take unpaid leave due to school closures and the need to take care of their children?

Keep in mind that pending federal and state legislation may change sick leave and unpaid leave laws dramatically but, currently, employees at practices with 25 or more employees may be provided up to 40 hours of leave per year for specific school-related emergencies such as the closure of a child’s school or day care by civil authorities (Labor Code section 230.8).

Whether that leave is paid or unpaid depends on the employer’s paid leave, vacation or other paid time-off policies.

Employers may require employees use their vacation or paid time-off benefits before they can take unpaid leave but cannot mandate that employees use paid sick leave. For example, CDA’s Sample Employee Manual template policy stipulates employees are required to exhaust vacation or PTO prior to taking any unpaid time.

A parent or guardian may choose to use any available paid sick leave to be with their child as preventive care.

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