On March 18, 2020, the federal government enacted the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). This new federal law applies to people who work for private employers with less than 500 employees or certain public employers. The law takes effect on April 1, 2020 and will remain in effect until December 31, 2020.
Under the new law, an employee who cannot work because she is quarantined (pursuant to a government order or a doctor’s order) is eligible for up to two weeks (80 hours) of paid sick leave (paid by the employer) at the employee’s regular rate of pay. An employee who cannot work because she is caring for someone with COVID-19 or for a child whose school/day care is closed may receive up to two weeks (80 hours) of paid sick leave (paid by the employer) at two-thirds the regular rate of pay. This paid sick leave supplements any paid sick leave that an employer already offers employees, but it does not mean that employees will be paid double for the same week the employee is out on leave. The federal law only adds two additional weeks (or 80 hours) to any sick leave the employer already offers.
**Note: The FFCRA paid sick leave described above also supplements New Jersey’s Earned Sick Leave program. Under that program, employees in NJ may accrue up to 5 days of paid sick leave per year. The sick leave described above, under the FFCRA, offers up to two weeks of paid sick leave in addition to any paid leave to which the employee is entitled under New Jersey’s Earned Sick Leave Law. More information on that program is available at: https://www.nj.gov/labor/worker-protections/earnedsick/.
If, after exhausting the FFCRA paid leave described above, the employee is still unable to work because she is ill, she may be eligible for temporary disability benefits. Information about New Jersey’s temporary disability benefits program may be found here: https://myleavebenefits.nj.gov/worker/tdi/.
If, after exhausting the FFCRA leave described above, the employee is unable to work because she is caring for someone with COVID-19 or a child whose school/day care is closed, she may be eligible for up to 10 additional weeks of partially paid leave (at a rate of two-thirds of the employee’s regular rate of pay). However, these 10 weeks of additional paid leave are only available to employees who have worked at least 30 days in their current job.
In order to be eligible for the additional (up to 10 weeks) paid leave, an employee must be out of work because he or she:
- is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
- has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19;
- is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
- is caring for an individual subject to an order described in (1) or self-quarantine as described in (2);
- is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) for reasons related to COVID-19; or
- is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of Labor and Treasury.
More information about paid sick leave and expanded Family and Medical Leave Act leave may be found here: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-employee-paid-leave and here: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-questions