On 5 March 2020, the government of Karnataka in India issued a circular mandating all employers to provide an additional 28 days of employer-paid sick leave to employees who have tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19). 

Key details

The new leave is solely intended to cover quarantine stays and recovery time for employees diagnosed with COVID-19. All employers located in the state of Karnataka are mandated to provide the new paid time off in addition to the 12 days statutory sick leave required under Section 15(3) of Karnataka Shops and Establishment Act 1961. Employees won’t be able to carry forward or cash out the new paid time off upon termination given its special and exceptional nature.

All employees diagnosed with COVID-19 in the state of Karnataka are entitled to the new fully paid sick leave of 28 days, even if they are not covered under the Indian Employees’ State Insurance (ESI). Those who are covered are required to obtain a medical certificate from an ESI hospital before being able to benefit from the new leave. This requirement is not applicable to those who are not covered by ESI.

Next steps

Employers in the state of Karnataka should ensure compliance with the new rule. Additionally, companies with locations in other states in India might want to consider providing those employees with the same special leave to ensure containment of COVID-19’s spread.