The Emergency Coronavirus Relief Act of 2020 has extended through March 31 pandemic-related assistance for both employees and employers. Businesses with fewer than 500 employees can provide employees with paid leave, either for the employee’s own health needs or to care for family members, and be reimbursed the cost of the paid leave through a tax credit.
These benefits are currently available through March 31, 2021.
Here is a summary of the law’s benefits for employees and employers:
- Paid sick leave for workers. Employees of eligible employers can receive two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at 100% of the employee’s pay ($510 daily limit applies) where the employee can’t work because the employee is quarantined and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis.
- Paid leave for workers. Employees can receive two weeks (up to 80 hours) of leave at two-thirds of the employee’s pay ($200 daily limit applies) if they need to care for someone in the following situations: The need to care for an individual subject to quarantine, to care for a child whose school is closed or childcare provider is unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.
- Extended leave. In some instances, an employee may receive up to an additional ten weeks of expanded paid family and medical leave at two-thirds the employee’s pay ($12,000 overall twelve week payment limit applies).
- Companies will get paid back. Businesses who pay employees the mandatory sick and childcare leave will get reimbursed through a payroll tax credit.
What it means for you
- Employees can take the necessary time to recover from being infected with COVID-19, or to care for a loved one, without fear of losing their job or salary.
- Employers can help their employees financially while navigating COVID-19 related shutdowns.
What you need to do now
EMPLOYEES. To take advantage of these paid leave provisions, you must provide your employer with documentation in support of your paid sick leave. There is yet no official application that needs to be completed. If you believe that your employer is required to provide paid leave but is not making paid leave available, or for other questions or concerns, you may call the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division at 1-866-4US-WAGE or visit www.dol.gov/agencies/whd.
EMPLOYERS. Here is what you need to do:
- Keep detailed records - Be prepared to defend your request for federal assistance. Keep good records of who's asked for paid time off because of COVID-19 related circumstances. Ask your employee to provide a doctor's note when appropriate, along with a narrative written by the employee describing who in their family is infected or suspected of being infected with COVID-19 along with symptoms. Make sure the note is dated and relates to an approved reason for leave.
- Talk to your payroll provider - Since businesses will be reimbursed through a payroll tax credit, any questions on how to get reimbursed should be directed at your payroll provider.
- Post this notice! - Employers MUST post a notice of the Families First labor requirements in a conspicuous place on its premises. Click here to download and print this notice.
- E-mail the notice! - An employer may satisfy the posting requirement by e-mailing or direct mailing the notice to employees, or by posting this notice on an employee information internal or external website. If your employees are working from home, this may be the only way to let them know the benefit exists.
Remember that currently these benefits have only been extended through March 31. Stay alert for further updates as another COVID relief package is currently being ironed out in Washington, D.C.