Covid-19 Sick Leave And FMLA Policies

sick leave written on a piece of paper
sick leave written on a piece of paper

The coronavirus pandemic has created an unprecedented public health emergency, and with it, the burdens placed on families has changed in a big way. Everyone — especially single parents trying to survive a new divorce — is trying to cope with balancing work and home responsibilities in this new landscape, but in one area, at least, there may be some temporary relief that can aid in the process.

On April 1st, 2020, the US Department of Labor announced new temporary rules “regarding how American workers and employers will benefit from the protections and relief offered by the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act.” These changes are intended to aid employees and employers alike in dealing with the challenges posed by the pandemic, and today, we’re going to take a look at some of the specifics so you can stay informed.

What The New Rules Say

Specifically, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (also known as FFCRA or Act), is requiring that “certain employers” provide their employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for reasons associated with COVID-19.

Now, what kind of businesses fall under the umbrella of “certain employers?” According to the Department of Labor’s FFCRA fact sheet, the provisions of the act apply to “certain public employers, and private employers with fewer than 500 employees.” Federal government employees covered by Title II of the Family Medical Leave Act do not fall under this designation.

Employees who are eligible, however, qualify for one the following:

  • Two weeks of paid sick leave at regular pay when unable to work because of quarantine or due to experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Two weeks of paid sick leave at two-thirds pay because they need to care for another individual subject to quarantine or a child under 18 who is out of school due to COVID-19.
  • Up to an additional 10 weeks of paid expanded family/medical leave at two-thirds pay if they have been employed for at least 30 calendar days and are unable to work because they need to care for a child for reasons related to COVID-19.

Again, these provisions apply solely to situations where employees have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, such as being isolated due to a quarantine order, advised by a healthcare professional to self-quarantine, experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, or need to provide care for another for reasons related to COVID-19.

If you fall under the criteria listed above, you should be eligible, but if you need more help navigating the particulars, or feel you’ve been wrongly denied medical leave, it may also help to speak with one of the many experienced FMLA attorneys in California to gain more insight on what options exist in your particular circumstances.