May I take sick leave to care for a family member who has been exposed to a communicable disease even though he or she is not sick?
Only in limited circumstances, after the CDC has determined the use of sick leave for exposure to a communicable disease is appropriate. For example, sick leave may be appropriate if the employee is providing care for a minor child who is not exhibiting any symptoms, but a determination has been made by the relevant health authorities or the health care provider that the child’s presence at daycare or at school could jeopardize the health of others because of the child’s exposure to that communicable disease. Since the employee would not be providing care for a sick family member, but one who is asymptomatic, the employee may request sick leave only if the exposed family member could not otherwise care for himself or herself (e.g., a minor child or elderly relative). Although the employee does not need to be the sole provider of care, he or she must be providing care actively to the family member in order to invoke sick leave to care for the family member exposed to a communicable disease. In contrast, it would not be appropriate for the employee to invoke sick leave to care for an able-bodied spouse who has been exposed to a communicable disease, but is not exhibiting any symptoms, since the employee would not need to provide care actively to the spouse. If the exposed family member contracts the communicable disease and becomes ill, the employee is entitled to use up to 13 days of sick leave for general family care or up to 12 weeks for care of a family member with a serious health condition, depending on the severity of the illness.