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HR Quick Take: FMLA or FFCRA? - November 25, 2020

Jo Ellen Whitney

Q: I have an employee who plans to go out on leave for surgery but has been told by his physician he has to quarantine for five days prior to surgery because of COVID-19. Is this leave covered under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave component of the FFCRA or FMLA?

A: Both FMLA and FFCRA may apply. Once the employee begins leave for actual medical treatment, that leave would be handled under your regular leave policies and potentially the Family Medical Leave Act, if the employee qualifies. You would look to the employee's initial request for leave or the date of surgery or treatment to determine when this normal leave would begin. The physician-required quarantine period, while a bit murky, is likely to fall within the FFCRA. 

The DOL Q&A states that Emergency Paid Sick Live applies if, "you have been advised by a health provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19," and there is the catchall component, "any other substantially similar condition." 

So, in all likelihood, part of the leave is covered by the FFCRA while the remainder of it will be under your existing PTO and/or FMLA policies.


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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