The COVID-19 pandemic has had many indelible effects on the United States, both where the population is concerned and in law matters. The pandemic has been uniquely devastating, causing many hospitalizations and massive loss of life. Unfortunately, many people who have contracted COVID have been exposed in the workplace.
Several states, including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, and New York, have updated or incorporated new leave laws since the beginning of the pandemic. These laws affect employers giving notice to those who may have been exposed to the illness and may need extra sick time to cope with its effects.
Faruqi & Faruqi LLP explains how these new leave laws work and the ramifications of the American workplace laws.
California’s law AB 685, which is in effect until January 2023, requires employers who discover a possible COVID exposure must give their employees and subcontractors proper notice within one day. This can enable employees and subcontractors to quarantine appropriately and restrict the spread of the coronavirus.
Though the new California provision for supplemental paid sick leave expired on December 31, 2020, employees who were denied sick leave during this period can still file a wage claim or report a labor law violation. This could entitle them to 80 hours of supplemental paid sick leave if their company has 500 or more employees. This leave would be paid at the state or local minimum wage.
Workers’ compensation is still affected by COVID. If employees were infected at work, they might receive temporary disability payments after they have exhausted COVID sick leave payments. This could be in effect for up to 104 weeks. Temporary disability stops when employees return to work or when their doctors release them for work.
In Colorado, all employers, regardless of the number of employees, must provide each of their employees a period of paid sick leave to cope with COVID-19. This is in concert with federal guidelines. However, these guidelines expired on December 31, 2020.
Employers covered under the state FMLA law must cover sick leave related to COVID-19 if the employee has worked 12 months and 1,000 hours in the past year. FMLA will protect an employee’s job if he or she has a severe medical condition. Employers may also choose to be more lenient in their guidelines.
Maine’s COVID sick leave laws cover caregivers and persons affected by public health emergencies. The leave may be paid or unpaid. Family medical leave (FMLA) laws apply to employees who have worked for the same employer for five months. These employees are entitled to 10 workweeks of job-protected unpaid Family Leave for two years. Employers with fewer than 15 employees are exempt. Family sick leave means that an employee can stay home to care for an immediate family member.
Also, Maine employees who are salary-exempt must be paid if the business is closed during COVID-19. The employer can require the employee to take personal, vacation, and sick leave as part of their paid leave but must continue to pay them during the duration of the public health emergency.
Most employees in Massachusetts are allowed to use up to 40 hours of job-protected sick leave each year. While the additional sick leave provisions for COVID expired in December 2020, employers are encouraged to use sick time, vacation time, and personal time liberally to help protect their employees from catching the virus.
New York stands out because its paid sick leave laws enacted due to COVID-19 have not expired. Employers must provide 40 hours of paid, job-protected sick leave if their employees are under mandatory or precautionary quarantines or isolation due to COVID. The size of the company determines how much sick leave the employer is required to give.
If the employer has under ten employees and has a net income of $1 million or less, the employer does not have to provide new sick days. If an employer with under ten employees has a net income of over $1 million, the company must provide five extra paid sick days for COVID. If the employer has 100 or more employees, it must provide 14 additional sick days. Public employers of any size must provide 14 extra sick days.
While most sick leave acts across the country expired on December 31, 2020, the tax credit laws remain in effect. Family and medical leave tax credits are available to people who have qualified expenses during the tax year. Faruqi Law can help you determine whether you are eligible for these programs under the law.
COVID and Your Job
If your company has mistreated you during COVID-19, you may have a case against them in court. If you have been denied appropriate sick leave due to the pandemic, you should contact an experienced law firm like Faruqi & Faruqi LLP to help you with your employment issue. It may be that you are due compensation or sick time that you should have earned during the pandemic.
Interesting related article: “What is Labor?“