The employment attorneys at Quinlivan & Hughes want you to know that our leadership team and the Employment Law Practice Group are staying up to date on the government’s efforts in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Those efforts include the recently enacted:

Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the “Act”).

The Act, which goes into effect on April 2, 2020, provides additional mandated relief and protections relating specifically to employment for those dealing with the coronavirus and COVID-19. Among its provisions and protections are:

  • Paid Emergency Sick Leave; and
  • Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) Expansion.

Each of these will be briefly touched upon.

Employers are Mandated to provide Emergency Paid Sick Leave in Certain Circumstances

For the first time, Congress has decided to require employers to provide employees with paid sick leave under certain circumstances. The Act provides that employees must receive emergency paid sick leave if the employee is unable to work due to any of the following situations:

  • The employee is subject to a Federal, State or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
  • The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19;
  • The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking medical diagnosis;
  • The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to an order as described in paragraph 1 or has been advised under paragraph 2;
  • The employee is caring for a son or daughter if the school or place of care has been closed, or their child care provider is unavailable due to COVID-19 precautions; or
  • The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

If any of the foregoing are present, full-time employees are entitled to receive up to 80 hours of paid sick leave, and part-time employees are entitled to payment for the number of hours normally worked in a two-week period, giving them the equivalent of two weeks paid emergency sick leave. However, emergency paid sick leave is capped at $511 per day.

Employers should also be aware that they cannot require an employee to search for or find a replacement worker or employee prior to the use of this paid sick leave and cannot require employees to use other paid leave before being entitled to emergency paid sick leave. There are also prohibitions that prevent employers from retaliating against an employee who requests or attempts to use emergency paid sick leave under the Act.

FMLA Leave Expanded to Include Additional Protections

The Act also amended and expanded the FMLA to assist those impacted by coronavirus and COVID-19. The expanded FMLA allows employees to take protected leave when the employee is unable to work (or telework) due to a need for leave to care for their child under the age 18 because their school or place of care has been closed, or because their child care provider is unavailable as a result of the coronavirus and COVID-19.

If the above circumstances are present, the employee is entitled to up to 12 weeks of protected paid leave. The amount of pay must be at least two-thirds of the employee’s normal pay, up to a maximum of $200.00 per day and $10,000.00 in the aggregate.

The expanded FMLA only applies to private employers with fewer than 500 employees, and all public agencies. To be eligible, an employee must have been employed for at least 30 calendar days. Once an employee is deemed eligible, the first 10 days of leave may be unpaid. This is meant to interplay with the emergency paid sick leave discussed above. During this 10 day period the employee has the choice to substitute their emergency paid sick leave.

We are Here to Help

As with most government initiatives, there are other nuances and the application of any legislation to any specific employer will depend on a number of things, including the employer’s size, the specific industry, and any unique challenges faced in the wake of this emergency.

As always, the experienced employment attorneys at Quinlivan & Hughes want you to know that we stand ready to advise and represent your interests during this challenging time. Please do not hesitate to contact any of our Employment Attorneys.

To speak with one of our attorneys, call us at 320-200-4928. You can also contact us online.

Established more than 95 years ago, Quinlivan & Hughes ranks among the oldest and largest law practices in Central Minnesota. The full-service law firm has growing legal teams in the areas of employment law, business law, government law, insurance defense, trust and estate planning, and general litigation. Learn more at Quinlivan.com.