Aside from the changes to COVID-19 OWCP claims we published earlier this month, DOL published some additional information.
This past Friday, DOL published a bulletin containing several questions and answers, and one, in particular, is going to trip up employees who don’t explain the below information to their doctor.
In other words, you can’t only submit a positive COVID-19 test to qualify for COP.
Here’s what we recommend employees do if they test positive for COVID-19, believe they know exactly when they were exposed to it, and intend to submit a Form CA-1:
- If you suspect you have COVID-19, take an at-home test, schedule an appointment with your doctor, or visit a clinic or urgent care provider. NOTE: if you test positive with an at-home COVID-19 test, you must follow up with a doctor to be tested again, as DOL will not accept an at-home test alone.
- When/If you test positive for COVID-19 at a doctor’s office, tell the doctor that you need a medical note that “explains why you are not able to perform the duties of your position as a result of the positive COVID-19 diagnosis for the work days missed.”
For example, the doctor likely expects you to quarantine because you are contagious. However, the doctor may also want you to have enough time to rest and recover from COVID-19. If that is the case, or they have other reasons for why you need to be away from work, they need to explain that in the medical documentation as thoroughly as possible, in addition to the need to quarantine.
- Notify your supervisor that you tested positive. If you intend to submit a Form CA-1 (because you know when you were exposed to COVID-19 on duty), tell your supervisor and request the use of COP. You do not have to provide the medical documentation immediately before you go on COP, but you will have to provide it eventually.
- Fill out and submit the Form CA-1 on www.ecomp.dol.gov, and upload the medical documentation.
- If you are unable to get a doctor’s appointment right away, you can still fill out the Form CA-1 and use COP (if you know when you were exposed to COVID-19 at work), and you can upload the medical documentation after the appointment. However, you must submit the medical documentation as soon as possible, within 10 days.
- If you do not submit appropriate medical documentation in time and you used COP, the agency will be required to convert those days of COP over to sick leave or annual leave.
We expect that some supervisors are going to struggle with this and require you to provide the doctor’s note before letting you use COP. That’s not how it works, but make sure you understand that if you don’t ultimately provide the appropriate medical documentation from your doctor, DOL may reverse the COP and make you use your own leave.