Employer Coronavirus Update

By March 23, 2020 No Comments
March 23, 2020
Daily Employer Coronavirus Update:
Summary of Emergency Leave Law
Murphy Austin realizes that our clients’ first priority is the well-being of their employees and families. This is the fifth of our daily updates with important information pertaining to COVID-19 in the context of employment law. If you have missed any of our previous updates, please click here to visit Murphy Austin’s COVID-19 Employer Updates page.

Today’s update focuses on the new Emergency Federal Sick Leave and Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provisions.

New Emergency Federal Sick Leave and FMLA Provisions
The Families First Coronovirus Response Act includes several important items, including funding for unemployment and food assistance.  It also creates new sick leave and paid FMLA provisions, which are summarized in today’s update.
Sick Leave  
The emergency sick leave law requires employers of less than 500 employees to provide paid sick to all employees (beginning day 1 of their employment) for the following reasons:
  1. Employee is subject to governmental quarantine or isolation order
  2. Employee is advised by health care provider to self-quarantine
  3. Employee has symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking medical advice
  4. Employee is caring for a person in categories 1-3 above
  5. Employee is caring for his or her child whose school or child care is closed
  6. Employee is experiencing a substantially similar condition to be determined by the Secretary of Health & Human Services

Full-time employees are entitled to 80 hours of sick leave. Part-time employees are entitled to the average number of hours worked over a two-week period.
The rate of pay depends on the reason for the leave. An employee taking sick leave under items 1-3 above is paid his or her regular rate of pay (up to $511/day and $5110 total). An employee taking sick leave under items 4-6 above is paid at 2/3 the rate of his or her regular rate of pay (up to $200/day and $2000 total).
You may not require employees to take other paid leave before they take this sick leave.
The emergency FMLA expansion requires employers of less than 500 employees to provide paid FMLA leave to employees who have been employed at least 30 calendar days only when the employees need leave to care for their children whose school or daycare is closed.
Employers of less than 50 employees may receive a waiver if the leave would jeopardize the viability of the business, under regulations to be issued by the Secretary of Labor.
Employees taking this leave will be unpaid for the first ten days. Employees have the option to substitute other paid leave available to them. After the first ten days, the leave will be paid at 2/3 of the employee’s regular rate, based on the amount of hours normally worked (capped at $200/day and $10,000 total)
Employer Tax Credit
Employers will be entitled to take the amounts paid for sick leave and FMLA benefits under these emergency measures as credits against payroll taxes. Should the credit be insufficient to cover the costs paid for leave, the excess will be refundable to the employers. Employers should seek specific advice from their accountants or other qualified professional regarding these credits.
Murphy Austin’s Labor and Employment Law Team
Please contact one of our team members if we can be of assistance.