(Editor’s Note: Today’s article is brought to you by our friends at Poster Guard, a division of ComplyRight and the leading labor law poster service that gets your business up to date with all required federal, state and local labor law postings, and then keeps it that way — for an entire year. Enjoy the read!)
While many states are announcing plans to reopen, it doesn’t mean that organizations don’t have to deal with COVID-19 issues anymore. For example, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which was signed into law in March 2020 stays in effect through the rest of the year.
We haven’t published anything comprehensive on the FFCRA, so I asked Ashley Kaplan, Esquire, senior employment attorney for ComplyRight, if she would give us an overview of the law and its implications for businesses both now and in the future. Thankfully, she said yes!
Ashley, before we talk about the FFCRA, it might be helpful to talk about sick leave in general. What’s the purpose of paid sick leave laws?
[Kaplan] In general, paid sick leave laws allow employees to earn paid sick days based on days or hours worked, to be used to recover from illnesses, seek medical care or, in some cases, attend to a sick family member. Some of these laws also include paid ‘safe’ days that provide earned leave for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking to seek services related to these incidents.
I’m hearing about a number of states enacting their own leave laws. Why would they do that?
[Kaplan] Many state legislators are recognizing the need for employees to balance work and family responsibilities – and the predicament they’re under if they can’t take time off to deal with sickness and other issues. In the absence of a federal paid sick leave law, states, counties and cities are stepping up and passing their own legislation. As of late April 2020, 12 states, the District of Columbia and at least 20 local jurisdictions provide paid sick days for employees.
Does paid sick leave apply to hourly or part-time workers? How would an employer determine which employees qualify for paid sick leave?
[Kaplan] Most paid sick leave laws aren’t restricted to full-time workers only. They also apply to hourly or part-time workers, allowing them to earn sick leave based on days or hours worked.
Paid leave under state and local laws is typically based on an accrual system tied to length of employment and number of days or hours worked, and these laws vary. For example, in Arizona, employees accrue one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked, for a maximum of 40 hours per year. In Michigan, it’s one hour of sick leave for every 35 hours worker and in Vermont, it’s one hour of sick leave for every 52 hours, with both states capping leave at 40 hours per year. Employers should check the specific requirements for the states, cities and counties under which they operate.
A common question I hear regarding paid sick leave involves “blackout dates”. Can employers do that?
[Kaplan] Blackout dates are typically associated with vacation scheduling, where an employer can block off certain dates or time periods due to staffing needs (during a busy season, for example). Because sickness and other issues can’t be anticipated, it’s not realistic to prohibit employees from using sick leave at certain times, and state/local paid sick laws typically do not allow for this. Continue reading here…
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