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COVID-19 Relief Laws Require Paid Employee Leave

As part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, two laws provide workers with paid leave for reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The leave benefits are effective from April 1, 2020, through Dec. 31, 2020.

The “Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act” allows 12 weeks of partially compensated FMLA leave to care for a child whose school or child care facility has been closed due to COVID-19. The leave applies only to workers who have been employed by their current employer for 30 days. Special rules apply to employees who are laid off and then rehired for purposes

of the 30-day requirement.

The “Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act” requires employers to provide 80 hours of paid sick time to employees in specified circumstances, including:

  • A quarantine or isolation order for the employee or someone the employee is caring for, or medical advice to self-quarantine

  • When the employee has symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a diagnosis

  • When the employee’s child’s school or child care facility is closed due to COVID-19 related reasons

Employers with 500 employees or more are exempt from the laws, and employers may exclude employees who are health care providers and emergency responders. The legislation also allows for future regulations exempting businesses with fewer than 50 employees from providing leave for child care reasons if the leave would jeopardize the viability of the business.

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