We have received several inquiries from our clients regarding the Coronavirus outbreak and its impact on leaves of absence. At this point in time, we have not seen an increase in leave requests related to the outbreak.
We recommend that our clients follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines regarding the Coronavirus outbreak. If an employee may have been exposed to the virus but is not exhibiting any symptoms, you may request the employee to work from home or take a leave of absence for up to 14 days. If symptoms were to develop, we would send the appropriate Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and/or applicable state leave law notices and certification.
Keep in mind, the leave would be designated under FMLA and/or applicable state leave law only if the employee is unable to work because of their own serious health condition (or they need to care for a family member with a serious health condition). Medical certification would still be required – given the impact on the healthcare community, employers may want to allow additional time for healthcare providers to provide the required certification.
Some clients have chosen to track leaves of absence related to the Coronavirus under their company policy and not require medical certification.
In California, those who are sick or quarantined due to exposure to the Coronavirus can file a Disability Insurance claim for benefits. Those who are caring for a sick or quarantined family member can file a claim for Paid Family Leave benefits. The requirements for both benefits are the same as any other qualifying event. More information may be found here.
The definition of disability in most of the Voluntary Plans (VP) and Short Term Disability (STD) Plans that we administer consider a participant disabled if he or she is ordered not to work by written order from a State or local health officer* because he or she is infected with, or suspected of being infected with, a communicable disease. Therefore, an employee may receive VP and/or STD benefits while they are unable to work due to contracting or possibly contracting the virus.
*Including a Physician/Practitioner as defined by the Plan