To address the widespread effects of COVID-19, also referred to as Coronavirus, Congress made emergency laws expanding both the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and paid sick leave to include employers with fewer than 500 employees.

These are significant changes to the laws. For example, an employer with fewer than 50 employees may apply for an exemption if they can prove they need it for the viability of their businesses, but otherwise, FMLA applies to every employee who has worked for 30 days or more. 

These new laws have an anticipated effective date of April 2, 2020, and will be in place until at least the end of the year 2020.

FMLA Expansion Act

Employers with fewer than 500 employees are now subject to FMLA. This is a new change for many small businesses. 

There is a new type of approved leave: Public health emergency leave related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Allows employees to take leave to care for their minor children due to their school or childcare closure because of the Coronavirus. 
  • Only the first 10 days of this leave are unpaid (as compared to standard FMLA leave, which is unpaid); however, an employee could opt to utilize earned paid leave during this timeframe.
    • Following the initial 10-day period, the employer must provide paid leave for each day of leave taken under the Act.
    • Paid leave is calculated at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay for the number of hours the employee would normally be scheduled to work but is capped at $200 per day or $10,000 total.

Emergency Paid Sick Leave

Under this new Act, full-time employees are entitled to 80 hours of paid sick time for specific coronavirus-related reasons. Part-time employees are entitled to a number of hours equal to the average number of hours they would normally work in a two-week period – available to the employee, no matter how long they have been employed.

Employees who are sick with Coronavirus can also receive full pay, capped at $511 a day. 

There’s much to these new laws, including what qualifies for time off when taking care of people with COVID-19, and employers need to consult with legal counsel to understand the impact these changes will have on their businesses. 

Terrazas Henkel, P.C. is here for you, and our experienced attorneys are ready to discuss how these recent changes may impact your business. Give us a call at 406-541-2500.