In industries that are exempt from the lockdown, can employees be forced to take sick/ annual leave if they have had recent travel history, or are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 or have been in close contact with persons who have been infected?

Most States have issued notifications/orders requiring that persons who have come in contact with persons who have been infected or have had recent travel history self-quarantine for 14 to 28 days.

In this regard, in the case where the employer is allowed to work during the lockdown under law, but the employee is unable to attend work due to the requirement to self-quarantine because of his personal travel or coming into contact with an infected person, the employer could possibly require the employee to take his/her annual leave or sick leave, subject to any specific Government notification in this respect.

However, if the employee had to travel because of work or came in contact with a sick person due to this work, the employer may not be able to force the employee to utilize his/her sick or annual leave.

In this context, the Government of Karnataka has issued a notification mandating the grant of 28 days paid leave for employees who are infected with COVID-19. Also, the Government of Uttar Pradesh has required that employees who are infected by COVID -19 or who are suspected to be infected and are kept in isolation be provided 28 days paid leave by their employer.

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