Navigating sick leave during COVID-19: Dept. of Labor publishes new guidance as businesses reopen

Posted at 4:06 AM, Jul 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-23 08:40:19-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The federal government is issuing new clarification if you have to quarantine because of COVID-19 and then take sick leave.

The Department of Labor released a new set of guidelines which will outline how aspects of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act works.

The law covers two types of paid leave, should you or a family member be impacted by coronavirus and have to miss work.

One is paid sick leave for you, while the other is expanded family and medical leave.

Under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, you can take up to 80 hours or ten days of paid sick leave.

You are entitled to your regular pay rate for one of the following three reasons

  1. You're subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine
  2. You have been advised to self-quarantine due to COVID-19 concerns
  3. You have symptoms of COVID-19 and are looking to get tested

This changes when you take sick time to care for your family.

You're eligible for at least two-thirds or your regular pay if you're caring for someone who is in quarantine or self-isolation, or if you're caring for your child whose school or childcare facility is closed, and you don't have other options for care.

"That law will allow employees to take off 12 weeks to take care of their families if they are out of school because schools are closed," said James Grasso of Phillips Lyte LLP.

You can take both sick leave and expanded family and medical leave to take care of your child when their school or childcare is unavailable due to COVID-19.

So what do you need to do if you're filing for paid sick leave under the Emergency Sick Leave Law?

You must provide a written request to your employer that includes the following

  • The name of whoever is sick or quarantined
  • The dates for which you are requesting leave
  • The reason for leave
  • And a statement showing that you are unable to work

If your child is sick, you must also provide their school or childcare provider's name and proof that no one else can care for them.

In New York state, there are times when you might not be eligible for coverage under the state's paid sick leave laws.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Office says if you travel to any of the 22 'high-risk' states, you'll have to quarantine for two weeks when you return to New York, and you must forego your paid sick leave benefits.