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October 01, 2020

Understanding the Governor's Travel Advisory Recommendation

On Wednesday, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced a COVID-19 Travel Advisory for states with positivity rates over 15%.  Those entering Ohio after travel to states reporting positive testing rates of 15% or higher for COVID-19 are advised to self-quarantine for 14 days.  For more information on the Governor’s Travel Advisory, see the dedicated webpage HERE and FAQs HERE

This advisory is intended for both leisure and business travel and should be heeded by both Ohioans and out-of-state travelers.  Those states currently include:

·         Alabama

·         Arizona

·         Florida

·         Georgia

·         Idaho

·         Mississippi

·         Nevada

·         South Carolina

·         Texas

 

Dealerships across the state of Ohio will need to evaluate what steps it will take as a result of this advisory in regards to employee travel.  Dealerships should implement a policy regarding employee travel (both business and personal).  Your policy should be communicated to your employees so that they make informed decisions regarding future business and personal travel.  

It is important to note this is not a mandate, but a recommendation/advisory.  However, given the goal of limiting the spread of COVID-19, and liability considerations, a conservative approach for employers is to follow the current advisory and have employees quarantine for 14-days upon their return from one of these states.  This is true even if employees requested leave before the Advisory went into place or are currently on vacation and were not told of this prior to their departure.  Because this is a fluid situation and the list of states may change weekly depending on the positivity rate, dealers should make all employees aware of the possibility as they are requesting leave. 

Once the dealership determines what actions it will take in response to the Governor’s Advisory, the dealership must communicate its policy to its employees.  Generally, that notice should include:

  • Reference to the Governor’s Advisory, with a link to resources;
  • That any employee who travels to any state where the positivity rate exceeds 15% will be asked to self-quarantine for a period of 14-days upon their return to Ohio;
  • That the list of states will be updated periodically and that if a state is added while the employee is visiting that state, he/she will be required to quarantine for 14-days;
  • Whether or not teleworking may be available for affected employees;
  • Whether or not the employee will be compensated by the employer during the 14-day quarantine and whether the employee will be required to take accrued PTO;
  • If the employee will not be compensated by the employer, then a reminder that the employee may be eligible for Ohio Unemployment Insurance through the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services and should reach out to them for more information;
  • A reminder that ODJFS, and not the dealership, is ultimately responsible for determining eligibility for unemployment benefits and
  • A statement advising that the policy may change in the future and flexibility will be required from all parties and include a central point of contact for questions or concerns. 

OADA does recommend that the dealership explore whether teleworking is an option so that that the employee could work from home and compensate the employee for that time.  Dealerships should consult with counsel to determine whether or not it is in the best interest of the dealership to compensate employees for employer-required quarantine.  According to ODJFS unemployment benefits are “available to eligible Ohioans who are asked by a medical professional, local health authority, or employer to be isolated or quarantined because of COVID-19, even if they are not actually diagnosed with COVID-19.”  [emphasis added] See the first question in “Unemployment Eligibility” HERE

For additional information and guidance, please consult with the dealership’s labor and employment counsel.  If you have any additional questions or concerns, please contact OADA legal counsel, Sara Bruce or Matt Chacey.  Sara can be reached at (614) 923-2243 or sbruce@oada.com.  Matt can be reached at (614) 923-2232 or mchacey@oada.com.