Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act – Key Takeaways and Requirements
President Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act on March 18, 2020, sweeping legislation addressing those impacted by COVID-19.
The Act includes the Emergency Family Medical Leave Expansion Act (Emergency FMLA) and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, the latter of which requires employers with less than 500 employees to provide employees with paid sick time for qualifying reasons related to COVID-19. Below are the key takeaways and requirements of the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act:
Covered Employers: Employers with less than 500 employees are required to provide employees with paid sick time if that employee is unable work or telework for a qualifying reason.
Qualifying Reasons for Sick Leave: Employees are eligible for paid sick time under this Act if the employee is:
- subject to a federal, state or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
- advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19;
- experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis;
- caring for an individual (not limited to family) who is subject to a quarantine or isolation order or has been advised to self-quarantine;
- caring for the employee’s child whose school or place of care is closed or the child care provider is unable to provide child care due to COVID-19; or
- experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Paid Sick Time: All full-time employees are entitled to 80 hours of paid sick time. Part-time employees are entitled to the average number of hours that employee would work in a 2-week period.
The amount of paid sick leave is capped at $511 per day, up to $5,110 total, for employees using sick time due to their own quarantine under 1, 2 or 3 above. Employees using sick time due to their own quarantine under 1, 2 or 3 above, will be paid their regular rate or the federal minimum wage or the state minimum wage, whichever is greater.
The amount of paid sick leave is capped at $200 per day, up to $2,000 total, for employees using sick time under 4, 5, or 6 above. Employees using paid sick time under 4, 5 or 6 above, will be paid at a rate of 2/3 the employee’s regular rate.
Calculating Part-Time Average: To calculate paid sick time for part-time employees or employees with irregular schedules, employers should base the calculation on the average number of hours the employee worked for the 6 months prior to taking paid sick time under the Act.
Carryover: The paid sick leave provided under this Act does not carry over to the following year.
Interaction with other PTO: Paid sick time provided under this Act is in addition to any paid sick time the employer currently provides to employees. Employers cannot require employees to use other paid leave prior to using paid sick time under this Act.
Interaction with Emergency FMLA: Employees may request to use paid sick time during the initial 10 days of unpaid leave permitted under Emergency FMLA.
Exclusions: The Secretary of Labor may exempt the following from taking such leave:
- Healthcare providers and emergency responders; and
- Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees if the required leave jeopardizes the viability of the business.
Additionally, employers of healthcare providers or emergency responders may elect to exclude healthcare or emergency responders from paid sick time provided by this Act.
Effective Date: Paid sick time under this Act goes into effect on April 1, 2020 and will remain in effect until December 31, 2020.
Tax Credit for Paid Sick Leave: Employers are entitled to a tax credit in the amount of 100% of the qualified sick leave wages paid by the employer for each calendar quarter. The qualified amount of sick leave wages taken into account cannot exceed $200 for any day for which the employee is paid qualified sick leave wages. However, if the employee is receiving sick leave wages due to their own quarantine under 1, 2 or 3 above, then the sick leave wages taken into account cannot exceed $511 per day. This applies for up to 10 days per employee in each calendar quarter.