By: Jessica Jackler
The City of Chicago implemented an emergency travel order, effective July 6, impacting travelers coming into Chicago from states designated as high-risk for COVID-19 cases. Individuals covered by the order are required to quarantine for 14 days. The order will affect employers and employees while it is in place, so employers need to be aware of the reach of the order. Below is a summary:
WORK AVAILABILITY REQUIREMENT
The City will release a new list of designated states every Tuesday as the designations change based on data of COVID-19 cases. Individuals who spend less than 24 hours in a designated state will not be required to quarantine. Individuals who fly into a Chicago airport and then leave the city limits are also not subject to the mandatory quarantine.
ARE THERE ANY EXCEPTIONS?
The order contains limited exceptions for essential workers who work in critical infrastructure, as designated by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, who travel for business purposes if they meet certain criteria and have identification issued by their employer. Essential workers traveling for work purposes are also subject to requirements limiting their activities to business-related functions, as well as self-monitoring their health and other precautionary measures.
An essential worker whose travel is for non-work purposes is subject to the mandatory self-quarantine and is not covered by this exception. The only exceptions to the order for personal travel are for medical care and parental shared custody.
WHAT OBLIGATIONS DOES AN EMPLOYER HAVE?
Employees who become subject to the mandatory quarantine may trigger obligations for employers under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), as well as the City of Chicago’s paid sick leave and anti-retaliation ordinances. Employers should be aware, however, that they need not provide paid leave under these laws if employees are able to telework during the quarantine period. Additionally, if employers implement a policy prohibiting certain personal travel, or at least outline a policy regarding personal travel during the pandemic, it may help avoid the consequences of the mandatory quarantine.
Practice Tip: This travel order presents a number of potential issues for employers and is a reminder of the importance to implement temporary policies during the pandemic related to nonessential business travel and even personal travel. Employers also need to be familiar with the FFCRA and local paid sick leave requirements as they will likely be presented during the duration of the pandemic.