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Who Qualifies for Paid Leave Under the New Coronavirus Law?
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Amid fears of a declining economy, on March 18, 2020, President Donald Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) into law. FFCRA is an economic stimulus plan intended to cushion the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on Americans.

The federal government’s emergency relief law—which marks the first time paid sick leave has been mandated nationwide—seeks to help American workers impacted by the novel coronavirus.

The act was originally passed on March 14, 2020; however, the U.S. House of Representatives later made “technical corrections” to the bill—such as adding caps on the paid leave—before passing it to the U.S. Senate for approval.

  
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Here’s everything you need to know about the new law

What type of paid leave does FFCRA offer?

The new federal law provides qualified workers two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay, if they are sick, quarantined or seeking a diagnosis for coronavirus, as well as if they are taking care of sick family members.

Which workers qualify for FFCRA?

Workers employed at small and midsize companies and nonprofits can get paid leave, as can government employees. The FFCRA applies to certain public employers and private employers with fewer than 500 employees.

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Which workers do not qualify for paid sick leave?

Workers at companies with more than 500 people—48 percent of American workers—are excluded from the new law. Instead, these workers can make use of the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act, which provides for unpaid leave if the employee or a family member falls seriously ill. Several states, including Washington, California, and New York are considering emergency legislation tied to the coronavirus pandemic and may offer some relief for workers at these bigger companies.

What about companies with fewer than 50 employees?

Workers at companies with less than 50 employees — 27 percent of workers — are included. However, these businesses may be exempted under the new legislation, if paying sick leave would cause financial harm to the business.



I am a part-time worker, do I qualify?

Yes. Part-time employees are eligible to receive paid sick leave benefits under this new legislation.will be paid the amount they typically earn in two weeks.

What if I’m self-employed?

Freelancers, including workers like Instacart shoppers and Uber drivers, can also receive paid leave, assuming they pay taxes. Self-employed people should calculate their average daily income for the year, and claim the amount they take as a tax credit.

How much money do I get on paid sick leave?

It depends on your particular situation. If you are sick, seeking a diagnosis for coronavirus or you are being quarantined you can earn the full amount you are usually paid, up to a maximum of $511 a day. If you are caring for a family member who has coronavirus or you are caring for a child whose school has closed due to the pandemic, you can receive two-thirds of your usual pay, up to a daily limit of $200.

How do I apply for paid sick leave?

The Department of Labor will issue guidelines by April 2 to help employers in calculating how much paid leave their employees should get. After that, you can contact your employer for more information.

Are these provisions temporary?

Yes. The paid leave benefits are meant as an emergency response to the pandemic. It will go into effect within 15 days of its signing and expires Dec. 31.

Do I get other aid?

Yes. The relief also includes free coronavirus testing, food, and medical aid. Lawmakers are introducing other legislation, including a Democratic plan for more paid leave.

What if I work at a big company?

You can take the remaining sick days your company already offers. Under a 1993 law, if you work for a company with more than 50 employees, are employed for a year-you’re eligible for 12 weeks of unpaid medical leave. In addition, some big companies, have added paid sick leave for coronavirus. For example, America’s largest employer Walmart has expanded its sick leave policy for hourly workers. Starbucks extended its sick leave benefits up to 26 weeks of paid leave for employees who contract COVID-19 and are unable to return to work.

How can companies and non-profits afford to pay all these sick leave benefits?

Companies and non-profits who pay sick leave will be reimbursed for the full amount within three months through a payroll tax credit. The refund will also cover the employer’s contribution to health insurance premiums during the sick leave.



 

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