Does Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave apply for employees or immediate family members who may contract coronavirus?
Yes, assuming that the FMLA applies to the practice, coronavirus would qualify as a “serious health condition” under FMLA, allowing an employee to take FMLA leave if either the employee or an immediate family member contracts the disease. The employee would be entitled to job reinstatement as well. State law may provide additional leave benefits.
Would I need to pay workers’ compensation for employees who contract coronavirus?
Perhaps, if the employees contracted the disease in the course of their employment. Does the employees’ work require them to be exposed to persons who are infected? Typically, health care workers fall into this category. If an employee incidentally contracts the disease from a co-worker, there likely will be no workers’ compensation liability. If there is workers’ compensation liability, employers are responsible for covering the costs of reasonable and necessary medical care, temporary total disability benefits, and permanent disability (if any). Employers should engage a competent medical professional on infectious diseases for advice to determine whether the disease is work-related.
Would I need to pay my employees disability benefits if they contract the coronavirus?
Yes, if such payments are provided in a practices’ benefit plan. Practices should review the limits of coverage in the benefit plan to ensure they have competent medical resources to administer the program.
Would I need to pay employees who go on leave during a quarantine period or because they have contracted coronavirus?
Perhaps. In the absence of a contract, hourly employees work at-will and are not guaranteed wages or hours. In other words, these employees do not need to be paid. Exempt employees do not have to be paid if they are sent home for an entire workweek. However, if exempt workers work for part of the workweek, they would have to be paid for the entire week.