The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, part of the coronavirus emergency relief package, has just become law and it will be essential in providing American workers with a first ever federally mandated paid leave if it becomes necessary for them to take time off due to COVID-19. This paid leave is a temporary response to coronavirus and is set to expire on December 31, 2020. While this is great news, it is important to know if you qualify for this aid as well as what the assistance entails.
What kind of workers qualify?
Employees who work for companies that employ less than 500 workers will be eligible to receive assistance under this Act. This means that most workers at small and midsize companies as well as nonprofits will benefit. Additionally, government employees who have been employed for at least 30 days will have coverage. Part-time and self-employed workers will also be eligible.
Who does not qualify for this aid?
This would leave all employees working for companies with more than 500 employees ineligible. It is also important to note, that even though employers that have fewer than 50 employees are covered, they could be considered exempt from providing paid leave by the Department of Labor if doing so would put their small business at risk of going under. Employers in the health industry can also refuse to provide paid leave to its give its health care providers and emergency responders on the front lines.
If I do qualify, how would I be paid during the leave?
Qualifying employees will receive two weeks of paid sick leave at their regular rate if they themselves are sick, quarantined or seeking medical or preventative care due to COVID-19 exposure. A qualifying employee that is taking care of a sick family member or child whose school or care provider has closed due to COVID-19 will receive two weeks pay at two-thirds the rate of their regular rate of pay. However, if you are caring specifically for a child whose school or care provider has been closed due to this virus, you are eligible to take up to twelve weeks of paid leave. This translates to receiving a maximum of $511 per day if you are seeking care for yourself or a limit of $200 per day if you are caring for someone else during this pandemic.
Part-time workers will be paid the amount they usually earn in a two-week period and tax paying self-employed workers, such as Uber drivers and Instacart shoppers should be claiming a tax credit by calculate their average daily self-employment income for the year.
How do I take this paid leave?
By April 2, 2020, the Department of Labor will have given employers guidelines on how to properly calculate paid leave for its employees. After this, you should be able to simply notify your employer of your requested leave to be able to receive the amount specified by law. Your employer is set to be reimbursed for the full amount (including their contribution to health insurance premiums) in three months as a payroll tax credit, with plans to advance money earlier than that for companies who cannot wait that long. The same goes for self-employed workers.
For those working at large companies that are exempt from this paid leave act, make sure to inquire about enacting your company’s paid leave policies. Many large companies, such as Walmart and Target, have added paid sick leave for coronavirus. You can also look into enacting a 12 week unpaid family and medical leave to secure your job during this time if you meet certain qualifications, such as having worked for the company for at least a year with a minimum of 50 employees.
This is a difficult time for most Americans and not knowing your rights when it comes to be able to provide for your families can be very upsetting. If you have questions or concerns about what your rights are during this time with regards to your employment, speaking to a labor attorney can be beneficial. At Fitapelli & Schaffer, we offer a free and confidential phone consultation with one of our available representatives. Call us now at (212) 300-0375 or visit our website and see what rights you may have.