EMERGENCY PAID SICK LEAVE
For what purposes can employees use paid sick leave
Employees may use paid sick leave if the employee is unable to work or telework due to a need for leave because:
- The employee is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19.
- The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.
- The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.
- The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19, or who has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.
- The employee is caring for a son or daughter of such employee if the school or place of care of the son or daughter has been closed, or the child care provider of such son or daughter is unavailable, due to COVID-19 precautions.
- The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor.
An employer of an employee who is a health care provider or emergency responder may exclude such individuals from being eligible for paid sick leave.
Which employees are eligible for paid sick leave?
All employees, irrespective of how long they have been employed by an employer, are eligible for paid sick leave under this law.
Can an employer require that an employee exhaust his/her other paid leave before using paid sick leave under this law?
How much paid sick leave can an employee take?
Full-time employees are entitled to up to eighty (80) hours of paid sick time. Part-time employees are entitled to paid leave for a number of hours equal to the number of hours that the employee works, on average, over a two-week period.
Do I have to provide paid sick leave under this law even though I already offer paid sick leave under the Massachusetts Earned Sick Time Act?
Yes. The law explicitly provides that it does not diminish the rights or benefits that an employee is entitled to under any state or local law. Similarly, the law does not diminish any rights or benefits the employee may be entitled to under a collective bargaining agreement or existing employer policy.
At what rate does the sick time have to be paid?
The employee’s sick time will be paid at the greater of: (i) the employee’s regular rate of pay, (ii) the federal minimum wage (currently $7.25 per hour); or (iii) the current minimum wage in the applicable state or locality (currently $12.75 per hour in Massachusetts).
If an employee uses paid sick leave for his/her own health (as set forth in paragraphs 1, 2 & 3 of the first Emergency Paid Sick Leave FAQ above), the employee is entitled to receive the full amount of their regular pay (subject to the maximum amounts referenced below).
If an employee uses sick leave for one of the other reasons (as set forth in paragraphs 4, 5 & 6 above), the employee’s sick leave will be paid at two-thirds the amount the employee would receive if he/she had used sick leave for his/her own health (subject to the maximum amounts referenced below).
If an employee is not scheduled to work, is he/she entitled to paid sick leave?
The employee is entitled to such amounts for the number of hours he/she would otherwise be normally scheduled to work.
For those employees who work part-time and whose schedule varies weekly, employees are entitled to be paid based on the average number of hours that the employee was scheduled per day over the 6-month period ending on the date on which the employee takes the paid sick time, including hours for which the employee took leave of any type.
If the employee did not work over such period, the employee is entitled to receive paid sick time based on the employer’s reasonable expectation at the time of hiring of the average number of hours per day that the employee would normally be scheduled to work.
Is there a cap on the amount of pay the employee is entitled to receive while on sick leave?
Yes. If an employee takes leave for his/her own health (as set forth in paragraphs 1, 2 & 3 above), the employee is entitled to no more than $511 per day, and $5,110 in the aggregate.
If an employee takes leave for one of the other reasons (as set forth in paragraphs 4, 5 & 6 above), the employee is entitled to no more than $200 per day, and $2,000 in the aggregate.
Are smaller employers exempt from providing paid sick time?
The Secretary of the Department of Labor has the authority to exempt small businesses with fewer than fifty (50) employees from the obligation to provide paid sick leave to allow an employee to care for his/her child if the school or place of care of the child has been closed, or the child care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 precautions, if allowing this leave would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern. There is no such exemption for small businesses under paragraphs (1), (2), (3), (4) and (6).
Are there any posting requirements?
Yes, employers must post and keep posted a notice that will be prepared or approved by the Department of Labor outlining the above requirements. The notice must be posted in a conspicuous place on the premises of the employer where notices are customarily posted.
When can employees start using paid sick leave?
April 2, 2020. An employee’s entitlement to paid sick leave shall end on December 31, 2020. Employees are not entitled to carry-over any unused sick time into 2021.
Mirick O’Connell’s Labor, Employee and Employee Benefits Group will continue to monitor the latest developments regarding the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and will update you accordingly. Please contact any member of our team if you have any questions.