With COVID-19 rapidly increasing, more and more Americans may need to take paid sick leave due to COVID-19. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act) requires certain employers to provide employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. An employee qualifies for paid sick time if the employee is unable to work (or unable to telework) due to a need to self-quarantine or care for an individual who is required to quarantine as well as care for a child whose school or place of care is closed due to COVID-19.
Am I Eligible for Paid Sick Leave Due to COVID-19?
The paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave provisions of the FFCRA apply to certain public employers, and private employers with fewer than 500 employees. A small business with fewer than 50 employees may qualify for exemption from the requirement to provide leave due to school closings or child care unavailability if the leave requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern. All employees of covered employers are eligible for two weeks of paid sick time for specified reasons related to COVID-19. Employees employed for at least 30 days are eligible for up to an additional 10 weeks of paid family leave to care for a child under certain circumstances related to COVID-19.
How Much Paid Sick Leave Am I Eligible For?
The pay rate and duration of paid sick leave depend on who is sick or under quarantine and the reason the leave is needed. Generally, the following applies:
- Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay where the employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis; or
- Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay because the employee is unable to work because of a bona fide need to care for an individual subject to quarantine (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), or to care for a child (under 18 years of age) whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19; and
- Up to an additional 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay where an employee, who has been employed for at least 30 calendar days, is unable to work due to a bona fide need for leave to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.
Required Documentation for Paid Sick Leave Under the FFCRA
The IRS is instructing employers they must have certain documentation to get the tax credits for paid sick leave promised under the new FFCRA. Therefore, if you must take FFCRA paid sick leave, your employer will likely ask you for the documentation it needs:
- Your name;
- The date(s) for which leave is requested; and
- A statement of the COVID-19 related reason for the paid leave.
The employer must also provide the IRS with a statement that you are unable to work or telework during the leave period. If you are taking leave pursuant to a quarantine order, you will need to provide the name of the government entity or health care professional that is ordering or recommending the quarantine.
Additionally, for leave taken to care for a child, you must provide:
- The name and age of the child or children needing care;
- The name of the child’s school or place of care;
- A representation that no other person will be caring for the child; and
- If the child is older than 14, a statement describing “special circumstances” making it necessary for you to be absent to care for the child.
If you believe you are entitled to paid sick leave under the FFCRA and your employer is not allowing you to take sick leave and/or pay you for the time, you may need the help of an experienced employment attorney. At Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law, we are dedicated to helping clients navigate their employment rights throughout New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Florida. We have years of experience and are rated a top employment law firm. Contact us today for a free consultation.