Miami, FL asked in Employment Law for Florida

Q: Do i have to pay salary of an employee isolating

I run a small auto repair shop. This morning, my mechanic called that he went to the doctor because he fears he may have the virus and said that the doctor told him to isolate for 15 days. He is the only mechanic i have which makes him extremely important to the business. We have been closed since March 19 due to we were a non essential business and we reopened at the beginning of May. All this time we were closed i paid the salaries of all the workers. My question is do i have to pay his salary, because this is a really big blow to the business.

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2 Lawyer Answers
Alberto Naranjo
Alberto Naranjo
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Miami Lakes, FL
  • Licensed in Florida

A: Here is what the department of labor says but good idea to check all your policies with an attorney.

From the DOL Website as of 05/28/2020 - Circumstances in Which the Employer May Make Deductions from Pay Deductions from pay are permissible when an exempt employee: is absent from work for one or more full days for personal reasons other than sickness or disability; for absences of one or more full days due to sickness or disability if the deduction is made in accordance with a bona fide plan, policy or practice of providing compensation for salary lost due to illness; to offset amounts employees receive as jury or witness fees, or for military pay; for penalties imposed in good faith for infractions of safety rules of major significance; or for unpaid disciplinary suspensions of one or more full days imposed in good faith for workplace conduct rule infractions. Also, an employer is not required to pay the full salary in the initial or terminal week of employment, or for weeks in which an exempt employee takes unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Bruce Alexander Minnick
Bruce Alexander Minnick
Answered
  • Tallahassee, FL
  • Licensed in Florida

A: Nothing in the CARES Act requires Florida employers to do anything differently than they have always done. However, if an employer has applied for and received federal SBA funding under the Payroll Protection Act, federal funding that is supposed to be spent paying the salaries of employees identified as "essential" (like the police, firemen, emergency vehicle drivers and EMTs, etc.) they MUST spend the money they borrowed only for the employment-related things approved in the Act.

Neither the CARES Act nor the PPP Act changed the relationship between employers and the employees' doctors. Just because an employee's doctor advises one of your employees to stay home for another 15 days does NOT mean that you--the employer--must pay the employee's wages for another 15 days.

Advice: In your situation--especially since you say you have already paid your (non-essential) employees their wages without requiring them to work since March 19, I can think of no reason why you must now pay this employee--or any others-- for an additional 14 days based on their claim to have been told to isolate them selves for another 15 days.

On the other hand--solely in order to protect all your other employees from possible contagion--I advise you to tell the employee requesting more free time off that--if his doctor told him to isolate himself for another 15 days--then he may NOT come back to work until the 15 day isolation period is over.

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