What if an employee needs time off to care for a sick relative with the COVID-19 virus?

Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) applies where the employee is caring for an individual whose healthcare practitioner advises the individual to quarantine or isolate. All employees regardless of employee type (regular, temporary, or unclassified) are eligible from day one of employment, with the exception of healthcare providers and emergency responders. 

The DOL has defined an “individual” under this section as an employee’s immediate family member, a person who regularly resides in the employee’s home, or a similar person with whom the employee has a relationship that creates an expectation that the employee would care for the person if he or she were quarantined or self-quarantined. “Individual” does not include persons with whom the employee has no personal relationship 

After exhaustion of EPSL, the normal sick leave policy and procedures apply for employees caring for an immediate family member, defined as the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent and any of these relations as a step. EPSL does not apply where the employee is caring for an individual who is exhibiting symptoms, and the sick leave policy will apply for employees in this situation. The employee would need to follow their department’s normal procedure for requesting sick leave and the use of such leave is subject to applicable County policies. Employees may be eligible to utilize Family Medical Leave, if their family member’s illness meets the definition for a serious health condition. The employee should contact the Department of Human Resources, Benefits Division, at 703-777-0213 for more information on the use of Family Medical Leave to care for a family member. 


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1. Why are face coverings required in the workplace?
2. What should I do if I come in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 or is showing symptoms?
3. What is the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and what benefits am I entitled to under this new law?
4. What are the County’s policies on the use of sick leave or telework for employees who are diagnosed with or displaying symptoms of COVID-19 or who believe they may have been exposed to COVID-19?
5. Can management send an employee home if the employee comes to work sick or displaying obvious cold or flu symptoms? If so, will the employee be required to use paid accrued leave?
6. Can management require an employee to provide a doctor’s note “clearing” the employee to return to work?
7. When can I return to work if I am feeling sick?
8. What should I do if I am concerned that my co-worker may be contagious or is caring for or lives with someone who is contagious?
9. What happens if an employee is sick and does not have any accrued sick leave?
10. Can an employee telework instead of using sick leave?
11. Will an employee with the COVID-19 virus be covered by Family Medical Leave?
12. What if the employee was exposed to the COVID-19 virus at work as a result of his/her job duties? Will the employee’s exposure to illness and/or subsequent illness be covered by Workers’ Compensation?
13. What if an employee needs time off to care for a sick relative with the COVID-19 virus?
14. What accommodations or assistance will be given to employees with child care issues due to a COVID-19 related school closure?
15. I am signed up to go to a conference and I’ve already made travel plans. Since the County has cancelled non-essential travel, what should I do?
16. Does our County medical insurance plan offer any options for virtual care?
17. I am very worried and fearful about COVID-19 and the potential impacts to me and my family. What resources does the County have available to assist employees with dealing with stress?
18. If I or a family member is exhibiting symptoms of the coronavirus and are also covered under the Cigna health plan, how will the COVID-19 testing be covered?
19. I have a question that is not addressed in this FAQ. Who should I direct my inquiry to?