Eric I. Emanuelson, Jr., Associate, in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the firm’s Washington, DC, office, was quoted in SHRM, in “When Employees with COVID-19 Might Be Allowed to Work from Home,” by Allen Smith. (Read the full version – subscription required.)

Following is an excerpt:

During the present surge in COVID-19 cases due to the variant called JN.1, employers must decide whether to let sick employees work from home, even as more employers are asking staff to return to work in the office. Whether to give employees with COVID-19 such flexibility can be a close call. Here are factors employers should consider. …

Isolation and Return to Work

When sick employees are sent home, they shouldn’t be rushed back to work before they feel better, as that puts the rest of the workforce at risk of illness or infection, said Eric Emanuelson Jr., an attorney with Epstein Becker Green in Washington, D.C.

Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that those who test positive for COVID-19 should isolate for at least five days, the CDC’s guidance is not binding on private employers, though it is the best practice, Emanuelson said.

In addition, sick employees should wear a mask when around others for 10 days following the positive test. “Following CDC guidance in these instances provides credibility to the employers’ decisions, makes communications of these decisions easier for managers and potentially reduces the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace,” he said. …

FLSA Concerns

Sick employees may begin feeling better before their isolation period has ended and might then start working from home. To remain in compliance with the FLSA, nonexempt employees should record all time worked while they are telecommuting, Emanuelson said.

“If the employer does not have timekeeping systems or protocols to track an employee’s work time outside the office, it may opt to prohibit nonexempt employees from working remotely to avoid a costly wage and hour violation,” he said.

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