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Columbus Employment Attorney / Blog / Employee Rights During Coronavirus / Do you have any rights to paid leave during the Coronavirus pandemic?

Do you have any rights to paid leave during the Coronavirus pandemic?

Coronavirus Rights

We are in an uncertain time with the Coronavirus pandemic spreading throughout our country. Many employees wonder their rights to leave to protect themselves and their families or because they or someone in their home may be at risk. The government has passed new laws related to the Coronavirus pandemic that give employees rights to paid leave under certain circumstances.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) was signed into law on March 18, 2020. The Family First Coronavirus Response Act requires certain employers to provide additional workplace rights, including, the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act and Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act. In this blog, we will cover some of the basic principles of the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act.

What is the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act?

The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act is a new law that expands employees’ entitlement to leave under the FMLA. Normally employees must work for 12 months and 1,250 hours before they are entitled to medical leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. However, the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act expands employees’ entitlement as more fully explained below.

When does the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act go into effect and how long does it last?

While the Act was signed on March 18, 2020, it does not go into effect until April 2, 2020 and it expires on December 31, 2020.

What employers are covered by the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act?

Private businesses with fewer than 500 employees and most public employers, with the exception of certain health care providers or emergency responders and the Secretary of Labor may exempt small businesses with fewer than 50 employees.

What employees are entitled to leave under the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act?

Unlike FMLA which requires an employee to have worked for their employer for at least 12 months and at least 1,250 hours to be eligible, the new law only requires that an employee has worked for their employer for at least 30 days. This law covers full-time employees, part-time employees, and some self-employed individuals.

What is a qualified reason to take leave under the new law?

The new law defines a “qualifying need” to mean “the employee is unable to work (or telework) due to a need for leave to care for the son or daughter under 18 years of age of such employee if the school or place of care has been closed, or the child care provider of such son or daughter is unavailable, due to a public health emergency.”

It is important to note, that the qualifying need must be related to an emergency with respect to COVID-19 declared by a Federal, State, or local authority. In addition, a child care provider must be a child care provider who received compensation for providing child care on a regular basis.

Is leave under the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act paid or unpaid?

The law allows for a total of 12 weeks of leave. The first 10 days (2 weeks) of leave are unpaid; however, an employee can substitute any vacation leave, personal leave, or sick leave for this unpaid leave.

Once an employee has used the first 10 days (2 weeks) of unpaid leave, the remaining 10 weeks of leave is paid.

Do I receive my full pay during the paid leave?

No. The employer is only required to provide at least 2/3rd of an employee’s regular rate of pay for the number of hours the employee would normally be scheduled to work. In addition, an employee can receive more than $200.00 per day of paid leave and cannot receive more than $10,000.00 total of paid leave.

What if the number of hours I work per week varies?

If your schedule varies from week to week and your employer is unable to determine the number of hours you would have worked had you not taken leave, then you will receive the average number of hours you were scheduled per day the past 6 months from the date leave was taken. If you did not work for the employer for the past 6 months, then the amount of hours is determined by the number of hours per day you were expected to work at the time of hire.

What should I do if my employer is not providing me with leave?

Our job is to understand all laws related to leave so that we can properly advise our clients of their rights to medical leave and other types of leave under the various federal and state laws. The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act provides employees with much needed rights during this difficult time. The new law makes it easier to become eligible than under the traditional FMLA law. Moreover the new law also provides for paid medical leave which the FMLA does not. Your safety and the safety of your children are paramount to us. If you have any questions about your rights to leave, call us at 614-949-1181 for a FREE consultation with an experienced family and medical leave attorney.

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