Nearly every American has had their life drastically affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Many businesses that worked closely with customers have closed at least temporarily if they are non-essential. Essential businesses remain open with new safety protocols. Other companies have pivoted to having employees work from home while in self-quarantine under the governor’s orders.

Since circumstances vary, many aren’t sure what they can and cannot do regarding sick leave and workplace protections during these unprecedented times.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act

The federal government now offers the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to address issues of relief and protection. This new law enables workers for a private employer of 500 or fewer employees to get 80 hours of paid sick leave or paid family leave.

Eligible employees can access the Families First Coronavirus Response Act by requesting leave from their employer and providing the qualifying conditions. If the worker is denied leave during this pandemic, they have the right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor.

Paid sick leave

The pay must be the worker’s regular wage or minimum wage, whichever is higher, if the worker faces one of the following conditions:

  • The employee is under government quarantine or a stay-at-home order
  • The employee is advised by a professional health care provider to stay home and self-quarantine
  • The employee attempts to test or seek a diagnosis for COVID-19 symptoms

The workers can also take time off to care for family members for two-thirds of their regular pay or minimum wage (whichever is higher) if they meet the following conditions:

  • The employee cares for someone under quarantine or a stay-at-home order
  • The employee cares for a child whose school or child-care services are not open due to COVID-19

Paid family leave

Employees are also eligible for an additional 10 weeks at two-thirds of their regular pay or minimum wage (whichever is higher) when both of the following criteria apply:

  • The employee is caring for his or her child whose school or child-care provider is unavailable due to COVID-19
  • The employee is employed for a minimum of 30 calendar days

It is best to consult an attorney

The circumstances for each business and employee are different, so it is advisable for both to check with an attorney experienced in handling business and employment disputes. These legal professionals can also explain in greater detail the obligations of these benefits and potential scenarios that are valid or invalid.