Am I entitled to paid sick leave if I am suffering from COVID-19?
The coronavirus pandemic has left employees nationwide with many questions and much uncertainty. With millions of Americans out of work and hundreds of thousands of people suffering from symptoms of COVID-19, employers and employees alike are feeling the stress of the virus. In an effort to protect employees and clarify their rights during the pandemic, Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Our NYC employment litigation lawyers explain the FFCRA and related employee rights during this coronavirus pandemic below.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act or FFCRA went into law on March 18, 2020. The Act requires that certain employers provide their employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical (FMLA) leave. Its provisions will continue through December 31, 2020, and the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division will enforce the law.
Employers covered under the act include certain public employers and private employers with less than 500 employees. Covered employees, per the law, are entitled to the following:
- Two weeks of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular pay if the employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined pursuant to a federal, state, or local government order, or is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a diagnosis;
- Two weeks of paid sick leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular pay if the employee is unable to work because they need to care for an individual subject to quarantine, or care for a child under the age of 18 whose school or daycare is closed, or for a substantially similar condition;
- Up to ten weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave at two-thirds of the employee’s regular pay if the employee, who has been employed for at least 30 days before, cannot work because he or she must care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed due to COVID-19.
Some small businesses with under 50 employees might qualify for an exemption to the requirement to provide leave to employees due to school closings if such leave would jeopardize the business.
Certain Employers Must Provide PPE
In addition to providing paid leave for sick employees or those with ill family members or children without childcare, some employers must provide employees with personal protective equipment to ensure their safety. Per the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), employers must perform a hazard assessment and identify the need for appropriate PPE for employees. Employees who will or are likely to come into contact with individuals positive for the coronavirus are likely to require adequate PPE. Employees who feel that they are not being protected as they legally should be or who have been denied paid leave for a qualifying reason will need to contact an employment law attorney to protect their legal rights.