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Davis Brown Employment and Labor Law Blog

HR Quick Takes: My employee has the measles - August 7, 2019

Q: Can I keep an employee home if they have been exposed to the measles? Do I have to pay them?

A: If you become aware that an employee has been exposed to a significant contagious disease, which would include mumps, measles, chicken pox and/or TB, you can require that employee to stay out of the workplace during the incubation period or any other time period when they are likely to be contagious. 

For measles, after exposure, symptoms typically develop within 10-12 days and persons are most contagious at least four days before developing any symptoms until four days after the typical measles rash has resolved. 

In terms of payment, an employee required to stay home due to potential risk of spreading disease can draw against sick leave, PTO, vacation time, and similar existing paid leave policies.

The employee would not normally qualify for FMLA, short term disability, or donations from PTO banks since such donations typically require an FMLA qualifying event pursuant to the IRS regulations. Waiting to see if you’re sick is not an FMLA qualifying event.

However, an employee providing care for a qualified family member (spouse/child) or with symptoms him or herself is covered by the FMLA.

Note, if exempt employees are out for a time period to determine if they are contagious and have exhausted all paid leave, you would not normally be able to deduct from their actual payroll as this is an absence occasioned by the employer. 

HR Quick Takes features client questions and answers from Iowa employment attorneys. If you have a question you’d like answered, email

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