This piece by Jacob Wade first appeared on IHeartBudgets.com (up to date as of 3/18/20) and is reprinted with permission from the author. It has been edited for content and clarity. The original author may be compensated if you purchase products or services via links in this post, at no additional cost to the buyer.
As businesses and public spaces reopen, employees may be returning from remote work or furloughed situations. Staying home if you are unwell is a priority, but many people do not have access to paid sick leave, or their company policies are woefully inadequate to deal with the current state of emergency we are in. To help you navigate your options, use this resource to keep you updated an informed regarding paid sick leave during the pandemic.
For workers without sick leave policies
If you work for a small business that does not offer paid sick leave, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act is an emergency bill created to help those who are not able to work due to the COVID-19 virus. It directly affects those who work for companies with under 500 employees. Here’s a breakdown of the 2 main parts of the bill, and how they may affect you.
Summary: Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act
Under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act:
· If you work for a company with less than 500 employees, you may be eligible for 2-weeks of sick pay if you are affected by COVID19 (sick or quarantined).
· If you must care for a family member, or take time off due to school closures, you can also get 2-weeks of pay (at a 2/3 pay rate)
· This includes part-time employees
Employers (with less than 500 employees) will be required to pay for two weeks of paid sick leave at the employees’ original pay rate (Update 3/17/20: now capped at $511/day). This includes part-time employees (based on average hours worked).
If you have to take time off to take care of family members who contract coronavirus or take time off due to closure of a childcare facility, you can receive two weeks of sick pay at a 66% wage rate (Update 3/17/20: now capped at $200/day). Note: This applies to employees who were working for the company for the 30 days prior to being impacted, and small businesses with fewer than 50 employees may opt out of these benefits if it is determined they will “jeopardize the viability of the business.”
There is also a tax credit available to self-employed workers who work for an employer (such as Uber/Lyft or Instacart). They can get the same two weeks of average pay at their regular rate, but instead of a paycheck, they would receive a refundable tax credit instead.
Summary: Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act
Under the Emergency Emergency Family and Medical Expansion Act:
· If you work for a company with fewer than 500 employees, you may be eligible for 10 additional weeks of sick pay if you have to take time off due to school closures (at a 66% pay rate, max $200/day). Remember, this is not the typical full paycheck amount, so adjust your budget accordingly.
· This includes part-time employees
The EFMLEA is an expansion of the FMLA, which protects employees from losing their job when needing to take extended time off for medical reasons (up to 12 weeks). The original FMLA policies allow for 12 weeks of unpaid time off. The added provisions in the EFMLEA does give paid time off. These benefits kick in after 2 weeks off (first 2 weeks covered by EPSLA above), but the remainder of the 10 weeks will allow for PAID TIME OFF at 66% of your original pay. The FMLA currently allows 12 weeks off work without pay and no risk be of being fired. With the new bill, these would now to include 66% pay benefit as well, capped at $200/day.
The first 2 weeks are covered under the EPSLA, but the next 10 weeks are covered under this new provision. This new provision only applies to families where children’s schools are closed, not for those caring for others who are affected by the virus.
The paid sick leave provisions in this bill are available until December 31, 2020. Employers are given a quarterly 100% tax credit to pay for this, and the U.S. Treasury announced plans to expedite this funding through the IRS. (Note: Employer credit is capped at $511 per day for sick/quarantined employees, and $200 per day for family-related absence.) If you are unsure whether you will qualify for sick pay, please contact your HR department to find out.
How long until I get paid?
The bill was signed into law on Wednesday, March 18, 2020. There are no current required timelines on how quickly companies will need to send out checks to employees. To mitigate income disruption, you may also need to consider applying for your State Unemployment Benefits, as this same bill gives states the ability to assist as well.
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