Do I have to provide my employee with paid sick leave, even if the employee is not personally suffering from COVID-19?
The short answer is yes, you may. To determine whether you have to provide paid sick leave to your employees, you first need some background on the emergency paid sick leave provision of the Family First Corona Virus Response Act:
The Family First Corona Virus Response Act (“FFCRA”) was signed into law on March 18, 2020. Division E of the FFCRA, entitled “The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act” allows certain employees up to two weeks of paid sick leave. The FFCRA applies to all employers with less than 500 employees, however, small businesses with fewer than 50 employees may seek an exemption if compliance with its requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business.
The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act
Employers must pay two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay where the employee is unable to work (or telework) because the employee is:
- quarantined (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order);
- advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19; or
- experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis
Employer’s must pay two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay where the employee is unable to work (or telework) because of:
- a bona fide need to care for an individual subject to quarantine (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider);
- to care for a child (under 18 years of age) whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19* (*after which point the employee is eligible for up to 10 additional weeks under the FMLA expansion); or
- the employee is experiencing a substantially similar condition as specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of the Treasury and Labor.
Employers may not require employees to use other paid leave provided by the employer (such as paid sick days or paid personal days) before the employee uses the paid sick time provided under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave provision of the FFCRA.
State and federal regulations and guidance related to COVID-19 is changing daily. You should always contact your legal or financial professional to obtain the most up to date and relevant information for your individual circumstances. If you are an employer with 500 or fewer employees and you need assistance interpreting the FFCRA, we can help! Email: Julie Pfaff at email@example.com.