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HR Quick Take: PTO or Emergency Paid Sick Leave? - December 3, 2020

Jo Ellen Whitney

Q: I have an employee who is out on vacation and has now called in because they have tested positive for COVID. Is that vacation leave or FFCRA leave?

A: Given the breadth of the FFCRA, and that the Department of Labor has indicated that employers should be "generous" in applying the statute, any period that the employee is ill with COVID-19 or required to quarantine, is likely applicable under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave component of the FFCRA. This is likely to be true even if you have an existing written policy that says if you are on vacation but become ill it remains vacation rather than sick leave. However, you can require a doctor's certification or other documentation to support the need for the change in leave.


HR Quick Takes features client questions and answers from Iowa employment attorneys. If you have a question you'd like answered, email

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