COVID-19: New paid leave requirements

Published April 1, 2020

COVID-19 stimulus legislation mandated new paid leave requirements for employers with less than 500 employees to support employees dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak. To help small businesses absorb the cost of these requirements and remain viable during the COVID-19 outbreak, the law provides a range of relief through loan programs and new tax policies. The law allows existing benefits to be used concurrently with the new leave provisions discussed belowUnder the new law, small businesses can be exempt from the leave requirements if they meet certain circumstances

Veterinarians are encouraged to consult with a professional regarding the technical implementation of these provisions. DOL has issued temporary regulations and a FAQs to assist with interpretation of these provisions, which are effective April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020.

Here is an overview of the new requirements:

Expanded Paid Sick Leave (EPSL)

What is it?

Under FFCRA, an employee qualifies for 80 hours (total) of federally required, paid sick leave if the employee is unable to work (or unable to telework) due to a need for leave in the following COVID-19 circumstances:

  1. Subject to a federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order

  2. Advised by health care provider to self-quarantine
  3. Experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking medical diagnosis
  4. Caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed, or caretaker unavailable due to COVID-19 
  5. Caring for an individual subject to a government order or self-quarantine
  6. Experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by Secretary of Health and Human Services in consult with Secretaries of Labor and Treasury 
Who is eligible?

Employees of a business that has less than 500 employees regardless of the duration of their employment. Part-time employees are eligible and the amount of required paid sick leave is equal to the hours the employee works on average over a two-week period. 

How much is the paid leave?

Depends on the circumstances of the need for leave. The regular rate of pay is required when an employee needs to leave for circumstances 1, 2, or 3.  For circumstances 4, 5, 6, the pay will be two-thirds of the regular rate of pay.

Limitations

For circumstances that require a regular rate of pay, there is a limitation of $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate per employee. For circumstances that require two-thirds of the regular rate of pay rate, then the limit is $200 per day and $2,000 in the aggregate per employee. Visit DOL FAQ for more information.

Expanded paid family leave for childcare 

What is it?

Under FFCRA, an employee qualifies for 12-weeks of federally required, paid leave if the employee is unable to work or telework due to caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed, or child care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 related reasons. 

Who is eligible?

Employees of a business that has less than 500 employees and have been employed for at least 30 calendar days immediately prior to taking leave. Part-time employees are eligible. 

How much is the paid leave?

The first 10 days of leave are unpaid. Then, paid leave is two-thirds of the regular rate of the employee’s pay. For full-time employees it is 40 hours a week and for part-time employees it’s equivalent to the hours the employee would normally be required to work. 

Can an employee receive both paid sick leave and expanded family leave if caring for a child due to COVID-19 closure?

Yes, an employee may be eligible for both types of paid leave, but only for a total of 12 weeks paid. See question 10 at DOL FAQ

Limitations

The law limits pay to $200 per day or $12,000 in the aggregate (this is a 12-week period that would include two weeks of paid sick leave followed by the 10 weeks of paid family leave). Visit DOL FAQ for more information. 
  

In order to be in compliance with the new requirements, employers must provide notice of the new leave provisions. DOL has created a poster for employers to use, as well as a FAQ regarding compliance with the notice provisions