If You’re Sick, Stay Home! You May Even Get
Paid for It

10 August 2020 Blog
Authors: Jessica Glatzer Mason
Published To: Coronavirus Resource Center:Back to Business Labor & Employment Law Perspectives

In the months since COVID-19 reached American shores, the mantra for employees who cannot telework has been if you feel sick, stay home.  Staying home when feeling ill is a key element of stopping the spread of COVID-19.  To help encourage this behavior, the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (the “Act”) provides for up to 80 hours of paid leave for employees who work for employers with fewer than 500 employees.  The federal government supports this initiative through tax credits to help pay these employees’ wages.  However, because the law applies only to employers with fewer than 500 employees, up to 100 million American workers are not eligible for this paid leave. In addition, a recent federal court ruling found that the U.S. Department of Labor’s interpretation of the Act is too broad, exempting too many workers—including certain health care workers and workers on furlough— from its coverage.  As the pandemic continues, states are stepping forward to fill the gaps.

Several states are considering legislation to expand the availability of paid sick leave, with many states taking targeted approaches to serve their residents. Nevada legislators, for example, are focused on protections, including paid sick leave, for hospitality employees, including those employed by hotels, casinos, and resorts. A California legislative committee is working on a bill to provide paid sick leave to essential workers in the food industry—an industry that has been hit particularly hard through the pandemic. Massachusetts is considering a bill that would extend paid sick leave to employees of large businesses in the state and, in Michigan, legislation has been proposed to allow employees to use paid leave to care for other family members when their usual care providers are unavailable.  While the Act provides expanded paid Family and Medical Leave for parents when child care is unavailable, the Michigan bill would allow paid leave, for example, for elder care. Pennsylvania is similarly considering legislation that would provide paid leave to frontline essential workers who have symptoms of or exposure to COVID-19.

New York and Colorado have taken a more aggressive approach.  Beginning January 1, 2021, employers in Colorado must provide up to 80 supplemental hours of paid sick leave in any future public health emergency, in addition to requiring accrual of regular paid sick leave.  New York enacted a similar measure in March 2020, requiring large employers to provide at least 14 days of paid sick leave and requiring some smaller employers to provide access to benefits, including sick leave and short-term disability, during the pandemic.  New Jersey, taking a different approach, expanded the existing family leave policy to require employers to provide unpaid but job-protected leave for up to 12 weeks to employees caring for sick or quarantined family members, or for children who are out of school due to COVID-19.

Employers in each of these states should keep a close eye on this pending legislation, including final terms and dates of implementation, to ensure compliance in this ever-changing landscape.  For more information or questions, please contact your relationship partner or one of the authors listed below. Foley’s here to help our clients effectively address the short- and long-term impacts on their business interests, operations, and objectives. Foley provides insights and strategies across multiple industries and disciplines to provide timely perspective on the wide range of legal and business challenges that companies face conducting business while dealing with the impact of the coronavirus. Click here to stay up to date and ahead of the curve with our key publications addressing today’s challenges and tomorrow’s opportunities. To receive this content directly in your inbox, click here and submit the form.

This blog is made available by Foley & Lardner LLP (“Foley” or “the Firm”) for informational purposes only. It is not meant to convey the Firm’s legal position on behalf of any client, nor is it intended to convey specific legal advice. Any opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Foley & Lardner LLP, its partners, or its clients. Accordingly, do not act upon this information without seeking counsel from a licensed attorney. This blog is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. Communicating with Foley through this website by email, blog post, or otherwise, does not create an attorney-client relationship for any legal matter. Therefore, any communication or material you transmit to Foley through this blog, whether by email, blog post or any other manner, will not be treated as confidential or proprietary. The information on this blog is published “AS IS” and is not guaranteed to be complete, accurate, and or up-to-date. Foley makes no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, as to the operation or content of the site. Foley expressly disclaims all other guarantees, warranties, conditions and representations of any kind, either express or implied, whether arising under any statute, law, commercial use or otherwise, including implied warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Foley or any of its partners, officers, employees, agents or affiliates be liable, directly or indirectly, under any theory of law (contract, tort, negligence or otherwise), to you or anyone else, for any claims, losses or damages, direct, indirect special, incidental, punitive or consequential, resulting from or occasioned by the creation, use of or reliance on this site (including information and other content) or any third party websites or the information, resources or material accessed through any such websites. In some jurisdictions, the contents of this blog may be considered Attorney Advertising. If applicable, please note that prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Photographs are for dramatization purposes only and may include models. Likenesses do not necessarily imply current client, partnership or employee status.

Related Services