Employment attorney shares what you need to know about sick leave and COVID

The state of Alaska again has the highest COVID-19 case rate among all states, and reported...
The state of Alaska again has the highest COVID-19 case rate among all states, and reported more than 500 new cases over the past two days.(AP)
Updated: Jan. 11, 2022 at 3:55 PM PST
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PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV) - With Omicron spreading so fast right now, a lot of us are needing to take time off work, and that raises questions about sick leave, so FOX 12 got answers.

Oregon law gives all employees, including part-time workers, sick time.

For workplaces outside Portland with at least ten employees, or in Portland with at least 6 employees, there’s paid sick time.

You can even use it if your kid’s school or daycare is closed because of COVID.

Beyond PTO, the options for time off are limited.

You might be able to use Oregon Family Leave, which is often unpaid, but some of the eligibility restrictions are looser right now because we’re in a public health emergency.

You can also look into short-term disability as an option through your employer’s insurance.

“Earlier in the pandemic there were a lot of these specific COVID policies but those were generally temporary and a lot of them have expired so most of this is just the situation you would be in not during a pandemic in terms of your rights to sick leave, your rights to family leave and that sort of thing,” Tom Payne, Attorney with Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt, said.

He said even if you test positive for COVID but feel perfectly fine, you’ll most likely need to use your sick time for that 5 day isolation period.

A lot of employers are offering remote work right now, though legally they don’t have to.

“Employers can set their own policy on how long you have to quarantine after you test positive and obviously they have to think about your coworkers, they have to look to keeping their workplace safe and protecting people from getting sick at work, so if the employer’s following the CDC guidelines, yeah you would have to stay out for the rest of the week and use any sick time that’s available,” he said.

A lot of scenarios are workplace-specific, so Payne suggests looking at your employee handbook, knowing the policies, and asking your manager or HR person any questions you might have.