Who is Covered Under the New Paid Sick Leave Law?
PLEASE BE AWARE: Riddle & Brantley does not practice employment law and is providing this free information solely in order to help North Carolinians in need. We cannot offer legal advice or representation in employment-related matters except for Social Security disability and workers’ compensation cases. We care about you so we are trying to provide you with free information that can at least serve as a starting point for your questions. If you call our office or email us, we may refer you to this page for resources and information so please read the entire article.
In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, the federal government has passed the first-ever paid sick leave law in United States history. But as employers and workers scramble to adapt to life in the age of COVID-19, the question remains: who is covered by the new paid sick leave law?
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
Signed into law on March 18, 2020, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requires that many workers be provided paid sick leave if they need to take time off due to the coronavirus / COVID-19 outbreak. It also expands unemployment benefits and provides for free coronavirus testing.
There are two types of paid leave provided for in the FFCRA:
- An expansion of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
- New emergency paid sick leave
Under its expansion of the Family Medical Leave Act, the new law waives the requirement that an employee needs to have been employed for at least a year and worked at least 1250 hours in the last 12 months in order to qualify for federally mandated family medical leave.
Instead, employees are now eligible for family medical leave after just 30 days of employment.
The FMLA expansion included in the new coronavirus-related sick leave law also allows employees to take up to 12 weeks of “job-protected” leave if they are unable to work due to school closures associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many US workers have been forced to stay home in order to care for children for whom school has been cancelled due to the coronavirus.
According to the new law, the first 10 days of this job-protected leave can be unpaid, but after that employers must pay employees at least two-thirds of their regular pay, up to $200 per day.
Unlike the rest of the Family Medical Leave Act, this new provision does apply to companies with fewer than 500 employees (although certain exemptions are available from the Department of Labor). While the new paid leave rule represents a significant expense for employers, it is important to note that under the law, businesses are eligible for tax credits totaling 100 percent of the cost of providing this paid leave.
Emergency Paid Sick Leave
The second component of the FFCRA covers paid sick leave.
Under the new legislation, private employers with less than 500 employees (and certain public sector employers) must provide paid sick leave to any employee unable to work because they:
- Are under government-mandated quarantine or isolation related to the coronavirus
- Have been told by a health care provider that they should self-isolate due to the coronavirus
- Are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking diagnosis
- Are caring for a child because the child’s school or daycare has closed (or because the provider is no longer available due to coronavirus-related precautions)
- Are experiencing a “substantially similar” condition defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
If sick leave is required under the first three of the five reasons listed above, benefits are capped at $511 per day with a maximum of $5,110. If sick leave is required under either of the last two reasons above, benefits are capped at $200 per day with a maximum of $2,000.
According to the new sick leave law, employers must provide full-time employees with 10 days (80 hours) of paid sick leave. Part-time employees are entitled to paid sick leave equivalent to the number of hours worked in a typical two-year period.
As with the expansion of FMLA under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, companies are also eligible for refundable tax credits equaling 100 percent of the cost associated with providing this leave.
REMINDER: We are providing this free information solely as a resource for North Carolinians in need during the COVID-19 crisis. Riddle & Brantley does not represent clients in employment-related matters except for those concerning workers’ compensation and Social Security disability.
If you have a potential workers’ compensation or Social Security disability claim, please call 1-800-525-7111 or complete the short form below for a FREE, no-obligation consultation.
Please be smart and stay safe during the coronavirus outbreak. Follow government self-isolation, “shelter-in-place” and “social distancing” orders and guidelines in order to protect yourself, your loved ones, and North Carolina neighbors.