Q&A: Quarantine Quagmire

Q. What is proper payroll procedure for a cooperative employee who knowingly takes a vacation to a state on the COVID-19 quarantine list, forcing him to self-quarantine in his apartment for 14 days upon his return? The new state and federal COVID regulations are tricky, particularly as they interplay with the collective bargaining agreement. Does the employee have to use contractual paid time off (PTO), i.e., sick days, vacation days, and/or personal days, to be paid for the time he was quarantined?  


A. “New York state has a mandatory 14-day quarantine following travel to certain designated ‘hotspot’ states,” says Leni Morrison Cummins, member attorney with New York City law firm Cozen O’Connor. “If the employee traveled to one of those states, then yes, he must quarantine for 14 days following his return.  Because the quarantine is mandatory in New York, the employee is eligible for paid leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) to the extent he has remaining days left. Pursuant to the FFCRA, an employee is eligible for two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay when the employee is unable to work because he is quarantined pursuant to law.”

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