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As COVID-19 continues to change life as we know it, employees may be furloughed, laid off, or simply unable to work due to illness closures due to quarantine orders. This sudden reduction or loss of wages has been detrimental to the lives of many hard-working Americans and their families. In response, the federal government recently enacted the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) (H.R. 6201).
The FFCRA was put in place to aid those in need and those out of work during this time. This relief comes in the form of emergency paid sick leave and emergency paid family medical leave as it is related to the coronavirus. We strive to ensure employees are aware of their new rights and have the power to take action. Covered employers (namely those with fewer than 500 employees) have until April 1, 2020, to prepare and implement these policies, and the Act will expire on December 31, 2020. Here are the most important points you should know:
Paid Sick Leave Under FFCRA
Paid Sick Leave at Your Regular Rate of Pay
Covered employers must provide up to 80 hours (i.e., 2 weeks) of paid sick leave at your regular rate of pay if you cannot work (either in-person or remotely) due to any of the following reasons:
– You are subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19
– You have been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine
– You are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and are seeking a medical diagnosis
Paid Sick Leave at Two-Thirds Your Regular Rate of Pay
If you find yourself in a position where you are out of work because of an extenuating circumstance regarding the health of a loved one, you still have options. Covered employers must provide up to 80 hours (i.e., 2 weeks) of paid sick leave at two-thirds an employee’s rate of pay if you cannot work (either in-person or remotely) due to any of the following reasons:
– You are caring for an individual subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine order or an individual who has been advised to self-quarantine
– You are caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed for reasons related to COVID-19
– You are experiencing any other substantially-similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services
Part-Time Employee Rights
Part-time employees may believe they do not have any options during this time, but this is not the case for many. As a part-time employee, you are eligible for the number of hours of leave that you work on average over a two-week period. For instance, if you work an average of 20 hours over a two-week period, you are eligible to receive up to 20 hours of paid sick leave.
Caps on Paid and Sick Leave
There are caps in place for the emergency paid sick leave that is available. Those receiving full paid leave are capped at $511 per day, up to $5,110 total per employee over the two-week period, and those receiving two-thirds sick leave are capped at $200 per day, up to $2,000 total per employee over the two-week period.
It is important to note paid sick time under the FFCRA does not carry over from one year to the next, and you are not entitled to a cash-out on any unused paid sick leave under the FFCRA upon termination, resignation, retirement, or other separation of employment. All emergency paid sick leave and paid family leave under the FFCRA expires on December 31, 2020.
Updates on Paid Family Leave
Who is Eligible?
Those who have worked for at least 30 days prior to the leave are eligible for emergency paid family medical leave. If you are unable to work, either in-person or remotely, because you are caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed for reasons related to COVID-19, you are eligible for paid family leave.
What are your Employer’s Obligations?
Covered employers are required to provide up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave. The first 10 days of leave is unpaid (although you may choose to use your accrued, unused paid time off). After the first 10 days, the covered employer must pay full-time employees two-thirds of your regular rate of pay for the number of hours you would normally be scheduled. This is capped at $200 per day, up to $10,000 total per employee.
If you are working as a part-time employee, you should be paid based on the average number of hours you have worked for the 6 months prior to taking the leave. If employed less than 6 months, the average number of hours you were expected to work upon being hired.
It is important to note, if your company has over 25 employees, your employer will be required to restore the employee to the same or equivalent position at the end of the leave. If you work for a company with less than 25 employees, you may be excluded from this reinstatement requirement.
We understand how difficult this time is for so many employees spanning such a wide variety of industries and specialties. If you believe you are not being provided the proper compensation and rights during this time, please reach out to us at 949-753-9100 to discuss your case.
If you are not working during this time, there are an additional few resources available to you:
For sick or quarantined, request a claim for short-term benefit payments; benefit amounts are approximately 60-70% of wages and range from $50-$1300 per week.
Paid Family Leave
For caregivers, request a claim for up to six weeks of benefit payments; benefit amounts are approximately 60-70% and rage from $50-$1300 per week.