New Orders Limiting Travel and Authorizing Testing and Self-Quarantine of Travelers into Maryland Could Require Employers to Provide Paid Leave Under the FFCRA

On December 17, 2020, Governor Larry Hogan signed an Executive Order requiring all Marylanders to limit travel to essential purposes and requiring all Marylanders who travel outside of Maryland, or any individual who travels to Maryland, to follow the travel orders issued by the Secretary of Health.  Those orders require all Marylanders who travel outside of the state, or any individual who travels to Maryland, to obtain a COVID-19 test within 72 hours before travel to Maryland, or upon arrival in Maryland and, until receiving a negative result, to self-quarantine (“Travel Order”).  The only exceptions are those traveling from Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington D.C.  Although not specifically stated in the Executive Order or Travel Order, the Maryland Department of Health issued an advisory, dated December 17, 2020, strongly advising that the CDC’s travel recommendations be followed, which include reducing non-essential activities 10 days after travel if an individual does not get tested, which is consistent with the CDC’s recent revision to its self-quarantine recommendations.  The Executive Order and Travel Order may have ramifications for Maryland employers.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”), which is in effect through December 31, 2020, requires covered employers to provide eligible employees with paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay when the employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined pursuant to federal, state, or local government order (among other reasons).  See: COVID-19: DOL Releases Posting Notice and FAQ for Emergency FMLA and Paid Sick Leave Benefits and COVID-19: Small Employer Exemption from Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Emergency FMLA Explained by DOL.  The requirement to pay sick leave that applies to employees who are unable to work because they are self-isolating or quarantining pursuant to a government order may also cover employees who are complying with a governmental advisory, such as the one described above, and the CDC’s travel recommendations.  Consequently, employees may be eligible for paid sick leave under the FFCRA during such periods of self-isolation or quarantine.  Furthermore, employers should be aware that although the FFRCA expires on December 31, 2020, under the new Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act employers may still provide paid sick and family leave, voluntarily, until March 31, 2021, in exchange for tax credits.