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FFCRA Leave for Employees Returning from Travel

Posted on July 07, 2020

As employees return from a long weekend, many employers are questioning how to greet employees who recently traveled out of state.

In a news release on July 2, 2020, Governor Tom Wolf told Pennsylvanians that they “would need to” quarantine for 14 days upon return from any of the following states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah. Because of the soft tone of Governor Wolf’s press release, it is unclear whether the state-specific quarantine will be enforced against returning travelers. However, there is a strong argument that this is a mandate, not a suggestion.

Employers may require employees who have traveled to one of the listed states to remain out of the workplace for the 14-day period consistent with Governor Wolf’s press release. If remote work is available, employers may require employees to work from home during that period. If remote work is not available, employers should consider whether employees have remaining FFCRA available to them.

Specifically, employers are reminded that an employee may qualify for two weeks of emergency paid sick leave under the FFCRA for several reasons, including if they are subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19 or has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.

Additionally, the Department of Labor has issued regulations which define a “quarantine or isolation order” to include, among other things, instances “when a Federal, State, or local government authority has advised categories of citizens… to shelter in place, stay at home, isolate, or quarantine, causing those categories of Employees to be unable to work even though their Employers have work for them.” 29 CFR §826.10.

Under this definition, the DOL is likely to consider employees who comply with Governor Wolf’s state-specific quarantine after travel eligible for FFCRA leave.

If you have further questions, please contact one of our labor & employment attorneys.

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