PTO for Employees for COVID related issues

I’m curious how other small practices are handling staffing issues/time off due to COVID related issues.

We are a small 3 physician, 10 staff office in the suburbs of Philadelphia.

  1. Are we required under the CARES Act to pay employees for time off due to a direct COVID exposure that occurred outside of the workplace?

  2. If yes, how many times does that apply? We’ve had a few employees that have had exposures more than once.

  3. What is the paid time off requirement under the CARES Act if an employee contracts COVID? Fortunately we have not had this case yet but I definitely want to be prepared for that because it seems to be inevitable.

Thank you!



My understanding is that all employers are required to provide up to 2 weeks of pay for employees that are missing work due to being symptomatic and seeking COVID testing, testing positive and are in isolation, or have been ordered to quarantine due to a confirmed exposure. I believe it is a single bank of hours up to 2 weeks pay and once it is used they will have to either use PTO or go without pay.

For us we use an outside payroll company and they have a code built into the system that we select and it automatically reduces our tax liability by the amount used on that payroll. We have also built a bank of hours into the system that equates to how many hours they normally work in a 2 week period to help track the hours used.

There is another part of the FFCRA that allows additional time off for childcare issues due to COVID that as a small business under 50 employees that you can opt out of if it will jeopardize the viability or your ability to remain open.


I agree with the rules but the tricky part is if they were exposed at work then it is considered a work comp issue.

It is my understanding that childcare, caring for an immediate family member, or self quarantined deemed necessary by a medical provider, is all part of the 2 work weeks available under FFCRA. I have employees who were out in the spring when childcare closed, and then tested positive this fall. We elected to gift our employees 5 days of covid PTO to only be used if employee is sick or has to quarantine.

I did think that someone had said in past months that the 2 week PTO does not apply to medical providers? Does anyone know if this is correct?

Medical offices can opt out of both. Essential front line workers. For exposed employees in our office we deploy active monitoring where they check in with manager every morning and run the symptom check list and document it. For COVID + employees they use sick time and after 3 consecutive working days can use Long term sick bank. For COVID + employees we also have them set up to work from home if they are feeling well enough to work and they can get paid. It is their responsibility to get this set up ahead of time in case it is needed.

For small medical practice there is serious risk of not having the staff needed to operate if every exposed employee quarantined each time they came in contact outside of office with COVID + person.

In our office we are all wearing mask and eye protection all the time when in clinical areas and mask all the time anywhere and everywhere in the office. We are more likely to get COVID from our own families than in the office, which has proven true over the past few months.

The key to providing the extending leave is either you do or you don’t. We opted against from the beginning. Would be legal nightmare if going back and forth. Also cannot double dip with PPP loan funding.

1 Like