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COVID-19 Law: Employers

Posted by on March 23, 2020

COVID-19 Law: Employers Must Provide Paid Leave to Employees

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act was signed into law on March 18, 2020. Importantly for business owners and employees alike, the new law requires certain employers to provide (1) extended absence and (2) paid sick leave to employees. 

This new law comes as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is rapidly changing the employment landscape. The law is not entirely clear with respect to enforcement and implementation, but this is what we know at this point:

Families First Coronavirus Response Act 
Enacted March 18, 2020
Effective April 2, 2020


Emergency Family + Medical Leave Expansion Act

This section of the law requires certain employers to provide extended absence for employees who, due to COVID-19, have lost their normal means of childcare. 

These rules apply to:

  • Employers with 500 or fewer employees
  • Employees who have worked for their employer for at least 30 calendar days
  • Employees with children 18 or younger; the child’s school or normal childcare is closed or unavailable due to COVID-19

Exceptions for these rules apply to:

  • Employers with less than 50 employees; the hardship exception exists if such an employer can demonstrate that this policy would jeopardize the viability of the business.
  • Employers employing health care providers or emergency responders

The structure and pay of this extended leave is as follows:

  • Employees may take up to twelve weeks of job-protected leave
  • The first 10 days of leave are unpaid. An employee can substitute accrued vacation, personal leave, or sick time for the unpaid days.
  • After the first 10 days, the employer will pay the employee at a rate of 2/3 employee’s regular rate for the employee’s normal hours. If employee’s schedule is irregular, the law provides a formula to determine employee’s “normal” hours.
  • The maximum amount of payment is $200/day or $10,000 total.
  • If an employee foresees using this leave, she must provide “practicable” notice to employer.

Employers are to restore employees’ positions unless the employer has 25 or fewer employees and the following conditions are met:

  • Employee takes this new available leave
  • The position no longer exists when the employee’s leave ends
  • Employer makes reasonable effort to restore the employee to a position equivalent or substantially similar to the former position, but those efforts fail
  • *Note that if employer has more than 25 employees she must reinstate an employee to the same or similar position following leave

Emergency Paid Sick Leave

This section of the law requires certain employers to provide paid sick leave for employees who have been directly impacted by to COVID-19. The leave provided under the section does not carry over into the future; it terminates when the employee returns to work from leave.

These rules apply to:

  • Private employers with 500 or fewer employees
  • Any public agency with one or more employee

These rules apply when employees 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 due to concerns related to COVID–19.
  3. The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID–19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.
  4. The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to an order as described in subparagraph (1) or has been advised as described in paragraph (2).
  5. The employee is caring for a son or daughter of such employee if the school or place of care of the son or daughter has been closed, or the child care provider of such son or daughter is unavailable, due to COVID–19 precautions.
  6. The employee is 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.

Exceptions for these rules apply to:

  • Employers with less than 50 employees; the hardship exception exists if such an employer can demonstrate that this policy would jeopardize the viability of the business.  (The employer must apply for an exemption.)
  • Employers employing health care providers or emergency responders

The structure and pay of this paid leave is as follows:

  • Full-time employees receive 80 hours
  • Part-time employees receive their average hours worked over a two-week period
  • The maximum amount of payment for those who meet conditions (1)-(3) above (are isolated or showing symptoms) is $511/day or $5,110 total.Pay for these employees is to be the greatest of: regular pay, federal minimum wage, or state/local minimum wage
  • The maximum amount of payment for those who meet conditions (4)-(6) above (are caring for others) is $200/day or $2,000 total.Pay for these employees is to be at a rate of 2/3 regular pay. If employee’s schedule is irregular, the law provides a formula to determine employee’s “normal” hours.
  • If an employee foresees using this leave, she must provide “practicable” notice to employer.
  • This leave is available immediately

The employer will face penalties if it does the following:

  • Employer requires and/or conditions employee’s leave on employee finding a replacement
  • Employer requires employee to use other accrued sick leave before using this new leave
  • Employer attempts to discriminate against and/or terminate an employee for using this leave

In the meantime, if you have questions about the new law or how it will impact you or your business, call or e-mail us at (541)738-1800 or info@reynolds.law.us to schedule a telephonic intake appointment.  Please note that we are unable to answer any questions unless or until you have scheduled an intake appointment and met by telephone with one of our attorneys..

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