Answers to the Most Common COVID-19 Restaurant HR Questions Provided by the Department of Labor and Society for Human Resource Management:
Would an employee who is afraid of coming to work and contracting COVID-19 be eligible for paid sick leave?
No, an employee’s concern for contracting the virus is not included within the six allowable reasons for leave. The employee, however, may be eligible for leave under another employer policy (such as a leave of absence, accrued vacation, etc.) as per the requirements of that policy. If an employee’s fear, however, is related to a serious health condition, they may be eligible for traditional FMLA leave. Normal notice and certification procedures would be followed for that determination.
Can I tell employees if a co-worker has tested positive for the coronavirus or other communicable disease?
No. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) privacy rules restrict employers from sharing personal health information of an employee. Employers should inform employees that possible exposure has occurred in the workplace without disclosing any identifying information about the individual who tested positive.
What should we do if an employee discloses that they have been in close contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19?
According to CDC guidance, individuals who have had close contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19 should self-quarantine. Employers can require an employee who has been exposed to the virus to stay at home.
Can I require an employee to go home (or stay home) if he or she is sick?
Yes, employees who show signs of respiratory illness can be asked to leave the workplace and stay at home until they are symptom free.
Do I have to pay nonexempt employees who are sent home from work because they are sick?
Most employers provide employees with paid time off for illness. Nonexempt employees who do not have paid leave available are not required to be paid for such absences, unless there is a collective bargaining agreement indicating otherwise.
If an employer requires an employee to self-quarantine, such as after returning from personal travel, would the employee be eligible for emergency paid sick leave?
No. Only an employee subject to a government order to quarantine or one advised to do so by a health care provider is eligible to receive emergency paid sick leave.
How long should employees with COVID-19 symptoms or a positive test stay at home before returning to work?
The CDC has provided guidance on this which they update as recommendations change. See, Discontinuation of Home Isolation for Persons with COVID-19 (Interim Guidance).
- Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Employee Paid Leave Rights (PDF)
- Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Employer Paid Leave Requirements (PDF)
To contact the PFSbrands HR Professionals, contact AskHR@pfsbrands.com.
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