Quarantined With Pay: The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act
Updated: Mar 31
By: Gregory C. Sinning, J.D. & Joshua C. Black, J.D.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act will take effect on April 1, 2020 and will provide additional protections to American workers through the end of the year. The Bill’s purpose, in part, is to expand on protections for employees who may be affected by the current coronavirus pandemic (“COVID-19”). In addition to expanding on the FMLA, which we discussed in a previous article, the Bill adds a new act called the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (“EPSLA”) to provide sick pay for employees affected by COVID-19.
What is the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act?
The EPSLA expands the rights of employees to use paid sick leave between April 1, 2020, and December 31, 2020. Under the new EPSLA, employers with fewer than 500 employees must provide sick time to workers effective immediately upon starting employment.
Who qualifies for emergency paid sick leave?
An employee qualifies for emergency paid sick leave under the EPSLA if: (1) the employee is sick with or has been quarantined due to COVID-19; (2) is experiencing symptoms of the disease and is seeking medical attention; (3) is caring for someone in the first two scenarios; or (4) is caring for a child in the event of a school closure or unavailable child care provider. The EPSLA does include language that allows for the Secretary of Health and Human Services to expand these scenarios if the need arises.
Please note that some healthcare workers and emergency responders are not covered under the EPSLA. If you are unsure if you are covered please reach out to a competent employment attorney to discuss your particular situation.
How muck emergency paid sick leave am I entitled to?
Full time employees are entitled to use up to 80 hours of emergency paid sick time. Part time employees are eligible to use up to the number of hours they generally work over a two-week period. Unlike some other paid time off, the EPSLA time is not eligible for carry over and will expire on December 31, 2020.
The EPSLA limits the amount of emergency sick pay an employee can earn to $511.00 per day or $5,110.00 over the entire leave period if on emergency leave or quarantined due to the employee’s own exposure to COVID-19. If the employee is on leave to care for a child or other qualifying individual affected by COVID-19 emergency sick pay is limited to $200.00 per day or $2,000.00 in the aggregate.
Can my employer make me use my regular sick time and PTO first?
No. An employer is prohibited from requiring an employee to use other paid leave provided by the employer before using emergency paid sick leave under the EPSLA.
Can my employer make me find a replacement to cover my shifts?
No. The EPSLA states that an employer cannot require an employee to find a replacement employee to cover his or her shift if the employee must take emergency leave.
What must my employer do?
Employers must post a notice at the workplace describing employee rights under the EPSLA. Additionally, an employer may not discharge, discipline, or in any other manner discriminate against an employee who exercises rights under the EPSLA.
Additional information regarding EPSLA.
If you have any additional questions or concerns about EPSLA, or if you feel that your rights have been violated by your employer, please do not hesitate to reach out to the authors. Mr. Black and Mr. Sinning may be reached at the Law Office of Joshua Black, PLC by telephone at 623-738-2225 or through the firm’s website www.azemploymentlawyer.com.
See full text of H.R. 6201 – Families First Coronavirus Response Act, last visited March 19, 2020 at: https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/6201/text.