A great deal of guidance and regulations have been made or changed to better apply to the COVID-19 pandemic. Just recently some states updated their paid time off and paid sick leave laws. If you have employees working in any of these areas, you will want to review your leave policies for compliance. Here are the states and their changes:
The California Labor Commissioner has issued FAQs on employee leave options, compensation and salary in the context of COVID-19. In addition, Governor Newsom issued an executive order requiring large employers to provide up to 80 hours of paid leave for food sector workers for certain COVID-19-related reasons. Covered workers include farm workers, grocery workers and food delivery workers, among others. The measure was intended to provide paid leave for employees not covered by FFCRA’s paid leave provisions. The cities and counties with individual laws are Long Beach, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, Oakland, Sacramento, San Francisco, and San Jose. Click here for more information.
Effective July 14, 2020, through Dec. 31, 2020, the Colorado Healthy Families and Workplaces Act expands paid sick leave under the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) to cover Colorado employers and employees exempt from the federal law. This law replaces the Colorado Health Emergency Leave with Pay (“HELP”) rules that had mandated paid sick leave for certain workers affected by COVID-19. Click here for more information.
The state has issued FAQs on the application of various employment laws and programs—including the state’s paid sick leave and family leave requirements—to workers and businesses affected by COVID-19.
District of Columbia
On May 27, 2020, Washington, D.C., enacted the COVID-19 Support Emergency Amendment Act (CSEA), which replaced all previous coronavirus-related legislation.
The CSEA requires employers with between 50 and 499 employees to provide employees with up to 80 hours of paid public health emergency leave. The leave is available for the same reasons emergency paid sick leave is permitted under the FFCRA, and only employees who have worked for their employer for at least 15 days are eligible. Employees may only use the leave concurrently with or after exhausting any other paid leave for which they are eligible under federal or District law, or an employer’s policies. In addition, employers may reduce an employee’s public health emergency leave by the amount of paid leave the employee has taken under federal or District law or its policies.
Employers that are health care providers are exempt from the requirement, which continues until the end of the COVID-19 emergency declared by the mayor.
The CSEA also expanded the DCFMLA to allow workers who have been employed by their employer for at least 30 days to use up to 16 weeks of unpaid COVID-19 leave for care for self or family or household member, or for childcare closure. The right to COVID-19 leave ends when the public health emergency has ended, even if an employee has not exhausted the 16-week entitlement.
The law is scheduled to expire on Aug. 25, 2020. Employers may require certain certifications, and any paid leave used by an employee for COVID-19 family and medical leave purposes counts against the 16 workweeks of allowable leave. Employees may, but are not required to, use DCFMLA leave before other leave.
- Chicago—the city passed an ordinance banning retaliation against employees for staying home from work for certain COVID-19-related reasons, including caring for others with COVID-19. The law provides employees with a private right of action for violations, allowing damages of three times the wages the employee would have earned and attorneys’ fees, in addition to other enforcement actions. The ordinance took effect on May 20, 2020. The city has issued FAQs on the ordinance.
Under an April 2020 executive order, Michigan employers are prohibited from discharging, disciplining or otherwise retaliating against employees for staying home when they are at particular risk of infecting others with COVID-19. If employees have exhausted their paid leave, they must be allowed to take leave as unpaid. The order applies to employees who themselves, or whose close contacts, test positive for COVID-19 or display one or more of the principal symptoms of COVID-19.
The Nevada Labor Commissioner’s Office has issued guidance on employees’ use of leave for COVID-19 purposes under the state’s new paid leave law. According to the guidance, employees may elect to use available paid leave or other applicable leave while out on a mandatory government quarantine, but employers may not require that employees use the leave for this purpose.
Recently passed legislation in New Jersey prohibits employers from terminating or refusing to reinstate employees for taking time off (as instructed by a medical professional) due to COVID-19. Another new law expands the definition of “serious health condition” in the state’s temporary disability insurance (TDI) and family leave insurance (FLI) programs to allow benefits when a person is diagnosed with or suspected of exposure to a communicable disease, or to take care of a family member similarly affected.
The legislation also expands New Jersey’s earned sick leave law to permit the use of earned sick time for isolation or quarantine recommended or ordered by a provider or public health official as a result of suspected exposure to a communicable disease, or to care for a family member under similar isolation or quarantine.
An additional law enacted on April 14, 2020, expands the state’s Family Leave Act to allow employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off to care for a family member as a result of an epidemic of a communicable disease, or efforts to prevent spread of a communicable disease. The job-protected leave also applies to employees requiring leave to provide care or treatment for their child if the child’s school or place of care is closed in response to a public health emergency.
The state’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development has developed printable guides outlining COVID-19–related benefits for New Jersey employees. These guides explain the applicability of benefits like earned sick leave, unemployment insurance, temporary disability and family leave insurance, and workers’ compensation in various COVID-19-related situations.
New York state enacted a new law providing leave for employees subject to a quarantine or isolation order due to COVID-19, effective March 18, 2020. Whether and how much employee compensation is required during the leave depends on the size and net income of the employer, as follows:
- $1 million or less, and up to 10 employees: Unpaid leave through the end of the quarantine or isolation. (Employees are eligible for paid family leave and disability benefits.)
- More than $1 million, and up to 10 employees: Leave through the end of the quarantine or isolation, at least five days of which must be paid. (After five days, employees are eligible for paid family leave and disability benefits.)
- Between 11 and 99 employees: Leave through the end of the quarantine or isolation, five days of which must be paid. (After five days, employees are eligible for paid family leave and disability benefits.)
- 100 or more employees: 14 days of paid sick leave during quarantine or isolation.
- Public employers: 14 days of paid sick leave during quarantine or isolation.
The law also allows paid family leave for employees to care for children under a quarantine or isolation order. Employees eligible for federal COVID-19-related leave may take state leave only to the extent that it exceeds the federal leave. Exceptions to the leave requirement apply for asymptomatic or undiagnosed employees who can work virtually, and for employees who traveled to affected regions (including states on New York’s travel advisory) for non-work purposes. For further information, see the state’s FAQs, or contact the New York Department of Labor.
The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries issued a temporary rule clarifying that Oregon family leave covers an employee’s absence to care for his or her child whose school or place of care has been closed in conjunction with a statewide public health emergency declared by a public health official.
Oregon has also issued guidance on the use of sick time (which may also be used for public health school closures) in the context of COVID-19.
- Philadelphia—Under emergency regulations, employees covered by the city’s sick leave law may use that leave for specified COVID-19-related reasons. Click here for more information.
The Rhode Island Division of Labor and Training is waiving certain eligibility requirements for individuals filing COVID-19-related claims under the state’s temporary disability insurance and temporary caregiver insurance programs. The Division has developed a fact sheet with further information.
- Seattle—On June 1, 2020, the Seattle City Council passed an ordinance requiring food delivery network companies and transportation network companies to provide gig workers working in Seattle with paid sick and paid safe time during the COVID-19 emergency. The ordinance takes effect July 12, 2020. It covers employers with at least 250 gig workers worldwide, and it mandates at least one day of earned sick and safe time for every 30 days worked in Seattle. Accrual is retroactive to Oct. 1, 2019, or the beginning of employment, whichever occurred or occurs later.
The law will remain in effect for three years after the end of the civil emergency proclaimed by the mayor on March 3, 2020; three years after any Seattle COVID-19 civil emergency proclaimed by a public official; or on Dec. 31, 2023, whichever is latest.
In addition, an emergency rule makes it an impermissible unreasonable burden under the city’s paid sick and safe time law for employers to require verification of an employee’s illness from a health care provider. Alternative means of verification are suggested in the rule. The rule remains in effect until June 7, 2020.
Use this information and check Helpside’s COVID-19 page to stay up to date with new guidelines related to COVID-19.