Paid Sick Leave, 2 Weeks
From April 2, 2020 through December 31, 2020, up to eighty hours of COVID-19-related paid sick leave is available to employees of companies with fewer than 500 employees and government employees. These parties are eligible for leave if they are unable to work due to: COVID-19 quarantine, whether government-imposed or recommended by the party’s health care provider; seeking a COVID-19 medical diagnosis because exhibiting symptoms; caring for a quarantined individual; caring for their child without school or child care due to COVID-19. Those taking paid leave to care for another will be paid at two-thirds of their regular rate of pay, up to $200 daily and $2,000 in total; others will be paid at their full rate, up to $511 daily and $5,110 in total.
Emergency Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Expansion, 12 Weeks
Employees may take leave to care for their minor child for whom school or child care is unavailable due to COVID-19. Employees are eligible for this coverage if they have been employed by their employer for at least 30 days (standard FMLA requires 12 months) and their employer has 500 or fewer employees. Some health care providers and emergency responders may be excluded, at their employer’s discretion. The first two weeks of leave necessitated by COVID-19 will be unpaid and the remaining ten are paid at at least two-thirds of the employee’s regular rate, up to $200 per day and $10,000 in total. One important caution about COVID-19 emergency FMLA leave: employers with fewer than 25 employees may not be required to restore the employee to their position following leave.
Enforcing Your Right to Sick Leave
An employer may not retaliate against an employee for using sick leave or speaking up about sick-leave violations. Nor may employers decline to provide paid leave to an otherwise eligible employee, require that the employee first exhaust other available leave, or condition paid leave on the employee securing a replacement to cover their hours.
Employers are required to post a notice about employees’ sick-leave rights. This notice is available from the Secretary of Labor. Employers may claim a tax credit for leave that they pay. Small employers (fewer than 50 employees) may be exempted from both paid and unpaid emergency leave provisions if compliance would jeopardize their business’ viability. Employers of health care providers and emergency responders may choose to opt-out of the FMLA expansion. Employers with fewer than 25 employees are not required to restore an employee following emergency COVID-19 FMLA leave if their position no longer exists due to conditions caused by the public health emergency and after making reasonable efforts, the employee cannot be restored to an equivalent position; in that case, the employer must for a year make reasonable efforts to contact the employee about available equivalent positions.