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Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act under the FFCRA

If you work for a private employee with fewer than 500 employees or a public employer, you are generally eligible for emergency PAID sick leave under this new law if you require a medical leave for specific reasons related to COVID-19. Employers with fewer than 50 employees may be able to avoid paying sick leave only if they can establish that obligation will “jeopardize the viability” of the business. Healthcare providers and emergency responders may be exempted by their employers but, even if exempted from this Act , these employees can take earned or accrued leave in accordance with established employer policies. Additionally, even if you elect to take paid sick leave, your employer must continue your health coverage.

You are eligible if you are unable to work, or telework your normal work hours, due to a leave because you are:

    1. subject to a federal, state or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19 or advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19 concerns or caring for someone who is subject to such an order or who has been advised to self-quarantine.
    2. experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking medical diagnosis;
    3. caring for their minor child if the child’s school or place of care is closed or the child’s care provider is unavailable due to public health emergency; or
    4. experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor

You need to request this benefit by providing enough information to let your employer know you have a COVID-19 related reason for the leave. The employer will want you to provide specific information documenting the reason and that may include medical or other similar documents. At a minimum, tell your employer about the need in writing if possible and ASK the employer to let you know what, if any, additional information it needs to properly consider your request for the benefit.

The amount you receive in this benefit depends on the reason you are entitled:

  1. You get 80 hours of paid sick leave at your regular pay rate (or the State minimum wage whichever is greater) for your own Covid-19 quarantine or illness. Benefits are capped at $511 per day and $5,110 total.
  2. You get 80 hours of sick leave paid at 2/3 of your regular pay rate (or the State minimum wage whichever is greater) if you are caring for an individual subject to Covid-19 quarantine or your own minor child, or you have a different qualifying illness. Benefits are capped at $200 per day and $2,000 total.
  3. Full time employees are those who work 40 hours or more. But part- time employees are included under this Law. A part-time employee is entitled to a rate based on the average hours you worked in the previous six months. For any employee, full or part time, who has worked less than 6 months, the pay rate is based on the average number of hours you were normally scheduled to work over a two-week period.

You can use the paid emergency sick leave intermittently (and in any increment) only if your employer permits it and you are not able to telework your normal schedule of hours because of a qualifying reason related to COVID -19.

You can use paid emergency sick leave intermittently (and in any increment) when you are working at your usual workplace, only if your employer permits it and you require the leave because you must care for your child due to school closure or absence of care provider.

If you need the emergency sick leave for any qualifying reason (other than child care), you must continue to take paid sick leave each day until you either (1) use the full amount of paid sick leave or (2) no longer have a qualifying reason for taking paid sick leave.

If you no longer have a qualifying reason for taking paid sick leave before you exhaust your paid sick leave, you may take any remaining paid sick leave at a later time, until December 31, 2020, if another qualifying reason occurs.

YOU CANNOT BE FIRED FOR SEEKING THIS BENEFIT:

Under the EPSLA, employers are prohibited from discharging, disciplining, or discriminating against any employee because the employee took paid sick leave, initiated a proceeding under or related to paid sick leave, or testified or is about to testify in such a proceeding. An employer who violates the paid sick leave requirements is considered to have failed to pay the minimum wage under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and subject to the penalties. But these claims must be filed timely. Please call promptly if you have questions or concerns.

 

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Freid, Gallagher, Taylor & Associates wants to reassure our clients that they remain our highest priority during this pandemic.  We are alert to the developing picture regarding this health crisis and have taken steps to make certain the health and safety of our clients and of our employees and their families come first as we continue to work for you.  Please know that, although we are working remotely, we are working every day to move forward for you.  Our office is equipped with technology that allows us to effectively and safely handle matters for our clients, while preserving privacy and securing data.  Our phones and email are staffed and we continue to aggressively push forward on behalf of our clients.  For new clients, please know that we are continuing to do consultations, free of charge, by telephone or videoconference.

We know that this is a particularly difficult time for our clients and we are thinking of you. Please stay safe and be well.

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