On March 18, 2020, the President signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201), with the goal of providing initial and immediate relief to American workers and families in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. One portion of the new law is the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, which requires some employers to provide emergency paid sick leave.
EMERGENCY PAID SICK LEAVE ACT
Effective Date: Effective April 2, 2020, expiring on December 31, 2020.
- A private employer with fewer than 500 employees;
- A public agency (federal/state governments, political subdivisions, schools);
- Any other entity that is not a private entity; and
- Anyone acting directly or indirectly in the interests of the employer.
Eligible Employee: Employees are immediately eligible for paid sick leave (there is no 30 calendar day requirement).
Reasons for Sick Leave: Employers are required to provide paid sick leave to an employee who is unable to work or telework because, due to and related to COVID-19:
- the employee is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order;
- the employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine;
- the employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
- the employee is caring for an individual subject or advised to quarantine or isolation;
- the employee is caring for a son or daughter whose school or place of care is closed, or child care provider is unavailable; or
- the employee is experiencing substantially similar conditions.
Additional guidance on parameters for determining the definition of “health care provider” is expected soon.
Paid Leave Required:
- Full-time employees: For reasons 1-3 above, employees are entitled to 80 hours at their regular rate of pay. For reasons 4-6 above, employees are entitled to two-thirds the employee’s regular rate.
- Part-time employees: Employees are entitled to the number of hours that the employee works, on average, over a 2-week period.
For leave taken for reasons 1-3 above, generally, an employee’s own illness or quarantine, paid leave is capped at $511 per day ($5,110 in total); and for leave taken for reasons 4-6, generally, care for others or school closures, paid leave is capped at $200 per day ($2,000 in total).
Sequence of and Rules for Leave: The new law requires that the employer allow the employee to first use sick leave provided for under this sick leave law, then decide to use any remaining accrued paid leave under an employer’s policy. The employer cannot require the employee to use accrued leave under an employer policy first.
Previously Provided Paid Leave: Any paid leave provided by an employer before the law is effective cannot be credited against the employee’s paid leave entitlement. However, hours cannot be carried over after December 31, 2020, and an employee’s right to take paid sick leave ends after they return from their leave.
Retaliation: As with other similar laws, employers may not discriminate or retaliate against employees who take paid sick leave. Employers who violate these provisions would be subject to penalties.
Tax Credits: As above with the emergency FMLA, the new paid sick leave law offers employers to be reimbursed for sick leave, including a refundable tax credit for employers equal to 100% of qualified paid sick leave wages required to be paid by the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act that are paid by an employer for each calendar quarter.
We know the federal and state response to COVID-19 will significantly intersect with your businesses. We are monitoring both federal and state bills and administrative guidance closely and will do our best to keep you informed during these trying times. Meanwhile, if you have any questions on these new regulations, please contact Jennifer Weaver, Will Cherry or your Manning Fulton relationship attorney.