The current COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has taken a toll on individuals and businesses worldwide. Across the country, many individuals have had to leave work due to contracting the COVID-19 coronavirus or to care for sick family members.
Because even exposure to the novel coronavirus requires a lengthy quarantine period, and if that person gets sick, it can require a lengthy recovery period, sick days and paid leave days are quickly depleted. This is especially true for employees of smaller businesses that often do not have as many paid leave days as employees at larger companies.
To address this issue, congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, also called the “Paid Leave Act,” in March 2020. The law applies to small companies with less than 500 employees. These small companies are required to give certain paid leave benefits to their workers affected by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. The employers that do provide these benefits will get tax credits.
The amount of paid sick leave required by the new law depends on why the employee is missing work. If the:
· Employee is sick: If the employee misses work because the employee has COVID-19 or is experiencing symptoms and needs to seek care, or the employee has to self-quarantine, the employer must give the employee two weeks of paid sick leave at the regular pay rate.
· Employee is taking care of a sick person: If an employee must miss work to take care of someone else who is suffering from COVID-19 or experiencing the symptoms, the employer must give the employee two weeks of paid sick leave at 2/3s the employee’s regular pay rate.
· Employee is caring for a child: If an employee must miss work to care for a child because schools and child care have been closed due to the pandemic, the employer must give the employee 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave at 2/3s the employee’s regular pay rate. This applies to employees that have been working at the business for at least 30 days. However, if the business has fewer than 50 employees, they can apply for an exemption if paying this leave would cause their business to fail.
Right now, the total impact of the coronavirus pandemic has yet to be determined. Understanding the ins and outs of this new law and how it may benefit your situation can be difficult, so talking to an experienced employment law attorney can be helpful.
Many small businesses in California and nationwide are trying to stay afloat after a huge decrease in customer demand. At the same time, employees have been deeply affected by the serious physical and economic effects of the pandemic. Parents have had to juggle work and child care due to school and day care closures. This paid leave can be extremely helpful as they try to take care of their health and the health of others while still trying to make ends meet. If you are an employee at a small business, it is important to know that additional paid leave may be available if you must miss work in the event that you or someone you care for get sick with COVID-19.