New Coronavirus Relief Law Requires Paid Employee Leave

Two laws were enacted that provide workers with paid leave for reasons related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, As part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act signed into law by President Trump on March 18, 2020.

One of the new leave provisions, the “Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act,” allows 12 weeks of partially compensated FMLA leave to care for a child whose school or child care facility has been closed due to COVID-19. The leave applies only to workers who have been employed by their current employer for 30 days.

The other new law providing employee leave, the “Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act,” requires employers to provide 80 hours of paid sick time to employees in specified circumstances, including:

  • A quarantine or isolation order for the employee or someone the employee is caring for, or medical advice to self-quarantine;
  • When the employee has symptoms of COVID-19; or
  • When the employee’s child’s school or child care facility is closed.

Employers with 500 employees or more are exempt from the laws, and employers may exclude employees who are health care providers and emergency responders. The legislation also allows for future regulations exempting businesses with fewer than 50 employees from providing leave for child care reasons if the leave would jeopardize the viability of the business. The leave benefits take effect on April 1, 2020, and expire on Dec. 31, 2020.