On March 18, President Trump signed into law a second COVID-19 response bill, one that will provide, among other things, temporary paid leave benefits... New federal paid leave law for those affected by coronavirus

On March 18, President Trump signed into law a second COVID-19 response bill, one that will provide, among other things, temporary paid leave benefits for certain workers.

Emergency Paid Sick Leave

Of particular importance for employers with less than 500 employees, the Act requires employers to provide paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave for certain individuals grappling with the spread of COVID-19.

Employees who work at companies with fewer than 500 employees are eligible for 80 hours of paid leave at their regular rate of pay if they cannot work because:

  1. The employee is subject to a federal, state or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
  2. The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine because of COVID-19;
  3. The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
  4. The employee is caring for an individual subject to quarantine or advised to self-isolate;
  5. The employee is caring for a child whose school or childcare is closed or child care provider is unavailable; or
  6. The employee is experiencing substantially similar conditions as specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Full-time employees can get up to 80 hours worth of paid sick time, while part-time employees are eligible for the amount of hours they typically would work in a two-week period. The amount of paid leave is capped at $511 per day ($5,110 total) for those who are on leave for reasons (1), (2) or (3) and $200 per day ($2,000 total) for those on leave for reasons (4), (5) or (6).

Companies with fewer than 50 employees can apply to the Department of Labor for an exemption to the new paid leave rules if they think that the “imposition of such requirements would jeopardize the viability” of their businesses.

Emergency Family Medical Leave Act

In addition to the paid sick leave, the Act also expanded the Family Medical Leave Act to require that employers with less than 500 employees provide up to 12 weeks of leave for employees who are unable to work (or telework) due to a need to care for a minor child because the child’s school or childcare facility has been closed.  The first 2 weeks of the leave can be unpaid. An employee can substitute accrued vacation, personal or sick leave during this time, but an employer may not require an employee to do so. The remaining 10 weeks are required to be paid generally at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate, for the number of hours the employee would otherwise be scheduled to work.  The pay is capped at no more than $200 per day and $10,000 in total.

These new mandates take effect no later than on April 2 and expire December 31.

In this unique time of public-health concern, all businesses need to know how to best protect their employees, business partners and customers.

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