Leave Policy Review: Coronavirus (COVID-19)

3/12/2020

by Bill Mason, Esq.

Here are six points you need to consider in reviewing your sick, annual, PTO, or unpaid leave policies as COVID-19 continues to spread:

1) Review your worker’s compensation rules on occupational illness.

  • Did one of your employees recently travel to a highly concentrated area, foreign or domestic, for business reasons? You may be on the hook.
  • If one of your public-facing employees receives the virus through community exposure—whether they’re cashiers, healthcare workers, or in hospitality and food service—what happens next?

2) Leave Policy for those with symptoms.

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has encouraged employers to establish “non-punitive” policies that allow employees to self-quarantine instead of powering through their symptoms.
  • Your policy should include whether or not to ask people with common symptoms of similar diseases (e.g.  the common cold, allergies, or the flu) to self-quarantine.
  • Will you require employees to use and/or exhaust accrued PTO if they are unable to work due to illness or are unable to work remotely?

3) Leave Policy for those exposed without symptoms, either through the diagnosis of a relative, friend, co-worker, or attendance at an event or through domestic or foreign travel.

  • Will you require employees to use and/or exhaust accrued PTO if they are unable to work remotely?

4) Leave Policy for those who have not been directly exposed but wish to stay home.

  • Employees affected by school closures, etc.
    • Will you require employees to use and/or exhaust accrued PTO if they are unable to work remotely?
  • Employee is simply worried about potential exposure at work.
    • How will your policy address this in a clear way?

5) Do policies apply differently for higher-risk employees (e.g. the elderly, pregnant, or already sick)?

6) How will office closure due to COVID-19 affect pay for hourly and salaried employees?

We at Kennerly Montgomery are here to help you as you assess and address this pressing issue. Please contact Kathy Aslinger, Ashley Trotto, or myself for any needs you may have in reviewing current or applying new employer leave policies at (865) 546-7311.

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