Are you eligible for paid pandemic-related sick leave?

The avalanche of news about the pandemic and fierce political disagreements over how to best deal with it has sometimes resulted in substantive news items being ignored by Milwaukee news outlets.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) is an important piece of legislation receiving too little attention. Made law earlier this year, the FFCRA requires employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide workers with emergency paid sick leave or with expanded FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) leave for certain reasons involving Covid-19.

It should be noted that employers receive a tax credit equal to the amount they spend on paid leave under FFCRA. The federal law is effective through the end of the year.

The Department of Labor says covered employees are eligible for:

  • Up to 80 hours of paid sick leave at their regular pay rate if they’re unable to work because they’re quarantined because of a government order or under doctor’s advice or because they have Covid-19 symptoms and are seeking a doctor’s diagnosis.
  • Up to 80 hours of paid sick leave at two-thirds of their regular pay rate because they’re unable to work in order to care for someone quarantined under government order or a doctor’s advice – or to care for their child (under 18) whose school/child care provider is closed for pandemic-related reasons. An employee can also be eligible if they’re “experiencing a substantially similar condition” to Covid-19.
  • Up to 10 additional weeks of paid expanded FMLA leave at two-thirds pay if they have “a bona fide need” to care for a child whose school/child care provider is unavailable for pandemic-related reasons.

Some small businesses (fewer than 50 employees) might be exempt from providing paid leave due to closed schools or unavailable child care – if the leave “would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern,” the federal government says.

You can check other conditions of pay and employee/employer eligibility at the Department of Labor’s website.

If you’ve had FMLA, FFCRA or other workplace rights violated by a Milwaukee employer, contact the employment law attorneys of Alan C. Olson and Associates.


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