Labor, Employment Attorney Says Employers Have The Right To Restrict Workers' Travel Plans, Require Quarantines

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — We’re inching toward the holiday season and many people are scheduling time off from work, but can employers restrict your travel plans?

A lot of people are hesitating to make holiday travel plans because of required quarantines and concerns they could get penalized at work. But experts say a simple conversation could help you get on that train or plane with peace of mind.

Taking a flight to see grandma and grandpa for the holidays will likely mean missing two more weeks of work when you get home because of the COVID-19 quarantine.

MORE: Tri-State Coronavirus Travel Advisory Quarantine List

So when do you break the news to the boss?

“I know some people, it may be nerve-wracking, you may be nervous about what their response is going to be. But the worst scenario is to not tell them and to have it found out afterwards,” said Brie Reynolds, a career development manager and coach at the employment website Flex Jobs.

She recommends talking to your employer as soon as you consider taking a trip.

“It’s important to also consider talking to your HR department if you have one, especially those larger companies, they probably do. Because they might have some plans in place that you don’t know about yet,” Reynolds told CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

John Ho, a labor and employment attorney, says employers do have the right to restrict workers’ travel plans, requiring them upon return to quarantine for 14 days or longer in order to protect their entire workforce.

He says, in some cases, companies can take away paid leave benefits if an employee takes a personal trip to a COVID-19 hot zone.

“If you actually voluntarily go for non-work-related reasons, then you’re not going to qualify for, for example, the federal Family First Coronavirus Response Act,” Ho said.

The New York COVID-19 law protects people from losing their job if they have to quarantine and requires employers to provide at least some paid time off.

RELATED STORY: Health Experts Remind Families Coronavirus Precautions Especially Important When Children Are Around Elderly

Reynolds suggests discussing a possible remote work plan with your employer for when you come home.

“That might be a nice way to meet your employer halfway and let them know, I want to stay on, I want to help out with things, I don’t want to leave anybody in the lurch,” she said.

Travel expert Peter Greenberg says people should be encourage to take time off now.

“As long as you get the work done,” he said. “You still have vacation benefits, you still have travel benefits. It’s up to your own sense of personal responsibility and safety.”

All things considered, perhaps this is the year to bypass unnecessary travel. Maybe Zoom with your loved ones and find a way to celebrate the holidays without putting anyone at risk.

If you choose to travel, experts also suggest looking into possibly getting tested before you return so you can get back to work faster.

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