Am I Entitled to Paid Leave because of COVID-19?

People who become infected with COVID-19 are supposed to isolate to keep from spreading the disease. Often this means missing work until you have completely recovered from the illness. When the virus was newly discovered and before the vaccine was widely available, the federal government stepped in to ensure that the American people would not suffer a loss of income as a result of contracting the disease or caring for a loved one sickened with COVID-19. However, many of those provisions have since expired.

If you are wondering if your time spent in COVID-19 isolation will be paid, this discussion describes the laws that guaranteed paychecks for individual workers in the early stages of the pandemic as well as the program’s limitations and official December 2020 expiration.

Even though the initial public health emergency protections are no longer available for more recent infection-related time off, it is important to note that some workers may be covered by other federal programs that offer income assurances for a leave necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, namely protections under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

What Law Requires Employers to Pay Workers for Time Off Related to COVID-19?

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) mandated that certain employers provide paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave to their employees whose time-off needs were due to COVID-19.

Carried out by the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, the paid leave requirements were in force from April 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020.

In exchange for tax benefits, some employers opted to continue the no-longer-mandated program until it was phased out on September 30, 2021.

What if I Was Out sick with COVID-19 When the Law Was in Effect?

Individuals who took time off as a result of COVID-19 during the period that the FFCRA was in effect are still eligible for protections under the law, meaning that they can force their employer to provide paid leave as long as they file legal action before the statute of limitations runs out.

Which Employers Are Required to Abide by the FFCRA?

The FFCRA applies to private employers with fewer than 500 employees. Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees may apply for an exemption under the law.

The law affects certain public employers as well. Federal government employees were not subject to FFCRA rules, as their leave policy is covered under the FMLA.

What Provisions Are Available under the FFCRA?

Employees of covered employers who took leave for reasons related to COVID-19 during the FFCRA effective period are eligible for up to two week’s paid sick leave amounting to up to 80 hours of their regular rate of pay if they were quarantined based on medical advice and/or awaiting testing while experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.

Eligible employees could collect up to two weeks paid sick leave at two-thirds their regular rate if they used the time to care for a loved one in quarantine or a child whose school or child care center was closed for reasons related to COVID-19.

The FFCRA also provided workers with up to an additional 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave at two-thirds pay, as long as the employee had been employed for a minimum of 30 calendar days and the need for the leave has to do with a lack of child care because of COVID-19.

Is COVID-19 Leave Available under the FMLA?

Employees who are eligible for unpaid leave, job protections, and health insurance provisions under the FMLA may also be able to collect paid leave, as many FMLA-qualified employers are encouraged by tax incentives to make paid leave available for their employees in order to stop the spread of COVID-19.

South Jersey Employment Lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC, Successfully Represent Workers in Lawsuits Against Their Employers

If your employer has failed to provide sick leave pay while you were sick with COVID-19, you should be able to collect the outstanding wages. The South Jersey employment lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC, can support your case for payment under the law. Call us today at 856-235-7075 or contact us online for a free consultation. With office locations in Mount Laurel and Atlantic City, New Jersey, we proudly serve clients from Cherry Hill, Burlington County, Camden County, and throughout South Jersey.