On March 18, 2020, President Trump signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act, which creates two new emergency paid leave requirements in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic: The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act. Both regulations became effective on April 1, 2020. The Department of Labor has provided guidance on interpreting both regulations.
Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (”EPSLA”)
The EPSLA applies to private employers with fewer than 500 employees. Employees are eligible for leave under this Act regardless of how long they have worked for the employer. It covers both full and part-time employees. Employees are immediately eligible for this leave.
The EPSLA requires employers to provide paid sick leave to employees who are unable to work for any of the following six reasons:
- is subject to a quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
- was advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19;
- is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
- is caring for an individual who is subject to a quarantine or isolation or order has been advised to self-quarantine;
- is caring for his or her son or daughter whose school or place of care has been closed;
- is experiencing any other substantially similar condition.
If an employee takes leave for reasons (1)-(3) above, they are eligible for sick pay at the greater of their regular rate of pay up to $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate. If an employee takes leave for reasons (4)-(6) above, they are eligible for sick pay at the greater of two-thirds of their regular rate of pay, up to $200 per day and $2,000 in the aggregate.
Employers are required to post a notice of the employee’s rights under this Act. It must be posted in a conspicuous place or may be sent via email or regular mail. The notice is available at https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/files/WHD/posters/FFCRA_Poster_WH1422_Non-Federal.pdf
Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (“EFMLEA”)
The EFMLEA applies to private employers with fewer than 500 employees. Employees are eligible for leave if they have been employed by the employer for at least 30 calendar days.
Eligible employees who are unable to work because they are caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed or unavailable due to COVID-19 are eligible for up to 12 weeks of extended FMLA leave. The first two weeks (usually 10 workdays) of this leave are unpaid. The following period of 10 weeks must be paid.
Eligible employees are to be paid at two-third of the employee’s regular rate of pay times the number of hours that the employee would normally be scheduled to work that day up to a maximum of $200 per day and $10,000 in the aggregate.
During the period of two weeks of unpaid time under the EFMLEA, the employee may concurrently use their two weeks of paid sick leave under the EPSLA. The paid sick leave and expanded FMLA provisions were designed to work in tandem to provide continuous income for the employee to care for his or her child whose school or place of care is closed.
Additional information for employers is available through the Department of Labor at: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic
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