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Brief Summary Of New Federal Coronavirus Relief Laws Requiring Paid Employee Leave

On March 18th, President Trump signed significant legislation to assist employees affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.  There is much confusion regarding this legislation, so we have put together a brief summary of the key provisions.  This summary is not exhaustive nor should it be construed as legal advice.  Please consult an employment attorney for answers to specific situations.

 

Two Key Legislative Acts

  1. Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act
  2. Emergency Sick Pay Act

 

Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act

  • Applies to all employers with fewer than 500 employees, regardless of whether or not current FMLA provisions apply
  • Allows employees who have worked for their current employer for at least the previous 30 calendar days to take paid FMLA leave
  • Covered employees may take up to 12 weeks of FMLA leave if they are unable to work (or telework) because they must care for a son or daughter under 18 years of age. The reason for care must be due to the closing of the child’s elementary or high school or place of care due to a declared COVID-19 public health emergency
  • Employers are not required to pay employees for the first 10 days, but employees may use accrued vacation leave, personal leave or medical or sick leave for this unpaid leave
  • After the first 10 days, the employer must compensate the employee at a rate of at least two-thirds of the employee’s regular rate of pay up to a maximum of $200 per day, and a total compensation maximum of $10,000
  • Standard FMLA provisions regarding job protection and restoration still apply for those with more than 50 employees
  • Employers with fewer than 25 employees are not subject to the job restoration requirements in certain circumstances (see Bulletin for further details)
  • Employers are entitled to a payroll tax credit up to an amount equal to 100% of qualified leave wages paid

 

Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act

  • Applies to all employers with fewer than 500 employees, regardless of whether or not current FMLA provisions apply
  • Allows all employees regardless of the length of their employment with their current employer to take paid sick leave
  • All full-time employees are entitled to 80 hours of paid sick time, available for immediate use
  • The amount is pro-rated for part-time employees based on an average two-week period
  • Reasons for paid sick leave:
    1. Employee is subject to a federal, state or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19
    2. Employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19
    3. Employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis
    4. Employee is caring for an individual who is subject to a federal, state or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19, or who has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine
    5. Employee is caring for his or her child if the child’s school or place of care has closed, or the child’s care provider is unavailable, because of COVID-19 precautions
    6. Employee is experiencing another substantially similar condition
  • Employers may not require an employee to use other paid leave before using the paid leave available under this new law
  • Employers must pay employees their regular rate of pay up to a daily maximum of $511 and a total pay cap of $5,110; if the employee is taking leave for a reason related to their own symptoms of, or exposure to, COVID-19
  • Employees who are taking leave to care for family members are only entitled to be paid at two-thirds of their regular pay, subject to a daily cap of $200 and a total pay cap of $2,000
  • Employers are entitled to a payroll tax credit up to an amount equal to 100% of qualified leave wages paid

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