Your Rights During the Coronavirus Pandemic
The coronavirus pandemic has caused a major disruption in the employment of millions of Americans. Whether you have been laid off, furloughed, forced to work from home, or needed to find childcare arrangements because your child’s school closed, you have almost certainly been affected in some way.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act) requires certain employers to provide employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to the coronavirus, or COVID-19 (the illness caused by coronavirus). These provisions will apply from April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020.
Generally, the FFCRA provides that employees of covered employers are eligible for:
Two weeks of paid sick leave (up to 80 hours)
- Paid at full pay rate, if the employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined by government order or advice of a health care provider, and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis; or
- Paid at 2/3 pay rate, if the employee is unable to work because of a genuine need to care for an individual subject to quarantine because of government order or advice of a health care provider, care for a child under 18 whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19, and/or the employee is experiencing a substantially similar condition as specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Ten weeks (maximum) of family and medical leave
- Paid at 2/3 pay rate, if an employee has been employed for at least 30 calendar days and is unable to work due to a genuine need for leave to care for a child whose school or childcare provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.
Who is covered?
Employees at private employers with less than 500 employees are covered by the two-week paid sick leave provision, as are employees at all government agencies. Employees at private employers with less than 500 employees are covered by the 10-week family and medical leave provision but only when the employee has been on the job for at least 30 days. Federal government employees are not covered under the 10-week family and medical leave provision, but state and local government employees are covered.
Your leave is job protected in general, which means that your employer must return you to the same or an equivalent position at the end of your leave (whether it is the paid leave or family and medical leave). There are exceptions, however. Your employer may refuse to return you to work in your same position if you are a highly compensated “key” employee as defined under the FMLA, or if your employer has fewer than 25 employees, and you took leave to care for your own son or daughter whose school or place of care was closed, or whose child care provider was unavailable, and all four of the following conditions exist:
- your position no longer exists due to economic or operating conditions that affect employment and due to COVID-19 related reasons during the period of your leave;
- your employer made reasonable efforts to restore you to the same or an equivalent position;
- your employer makes reasonable efforts to contact you if an equivalent position becomes available; and
- your employer continues to make reasonable efforts to contact you for one year beginning either on the date the leave related to COVID-19 reasons concludes or the date 12 weeks after your leave began, whichever is earlier.
There is a very helpful FAQ on the Department of Labor website.
Find Out How We Can Help
Please contact this office if you have any questions about your job and the coronavirus and/or COVID-19. We are already in the process of representing several individuals with coronavirus-related employment issues. In this unprecedented and confusing time, it is important to have experienced and able legal counsel to help you along the way.