My wife tested positive for COVID-19, and the health center has stopped me from leaving the house because, as her husband, I am a high-risk contact. It seems I can't get tested until after my wife has recovered. My employer has told me not to come to work. Can I still get paid by my employer?
You have been designated a high-risk contact (nōkō sesshokusha / 濃厚接触者) of a person who has contracted COVID-19, and it would seem that the health center (hokenjo / 保健所) has requested you stay home and self-quarantine (jitaku taiki / 自宅待機) to prevent the further spread of infection. In a situation where your employer had told you not to come to work and directed you to take leave, the decision would have been made by your employer, and, in principle, the period for which you were asked to stay home should be eligible for paid leave. However, opinion may differ as to whether the employer's decision was either based on circumstances beyond human control, or made at the convenience of the employer. It is therefore difficult for Nagoya International Center to determine a definite course in each of these likely situations.
The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (in its Novel Coronavirus Q & A [for businesses] section 4 question 3) states that in the case of an individual suspected of being infected, even if based on the result of an examination and consultation center (health center) consultation, if the individual is able to continue working yet the employer decides to force the individual to take leave, the employer is required to pay leave allowance. The reasoning behind this seems to be that forbidding an employee who is able to work from coming to work is the decision of the employer, thus such leave is considered eligible for leave allowance.
A health center confirms that under the law (Act on the Prevention of Infectious Diseases and Medical Care for Patients with Infectious Diseases / 感染症の予防及び感染症の患者に対する医療に関する法律), those whose attendance at work is restricted are patients or asymptomatic carriers (infected persons), and high-risk contacts who are suspected of being infected are requested to cooperate (kyōryoku yōsei / 協力要請) and self-quarantine; if requested to cooperate, an individual must make the effort to self-quarantine.
As the circumstances will vary from case to case, please consult the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare's Telephone Consultation Service for Foreign Workers (English: 0570-001701; for other languages, please see website) or a Labour Standards Inspection Office.
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