So far this year we've seen a lot of change, especially when it came to leave legislation at the federal, state and local levels in response to COVID-19.
Likewise, leave case managers have had their hands full dealing with an ever-increasing amount of employees taking leave because of medical reasons, or to care for a family member who is in quarantine or ill. On top of this, they have to constantly stay up-to-date with new and updated leave laws!
We covered the federal level of COVID-19 leave legislation in the first part of this blog series. In the second part, we'll be presenting a brief summary of new and updated leave laws that have gone into effect this year. Be sure to check out our parent company, Presagia's best practice resource for leave management during COVID-19 for a more in-depth coverage of all of these legislative updates.
Under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), COVID-19 is considered a serious health condition if it leads to pneumonia, results in inpatient care or the individual requires attention or care from a healthcare provider. Employees are eligible for this leave if their employer has at least 50 employees (within 75 miles of their workplace), have worked there for at least one year and have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours in the year before they take time off. Eligible employees are entitled to take up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave for the following reasons:
- For their own serious health condition.
- To care for a spouse, parent or dependent child with a serious health condition.
The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) published emergency rules which require employers to provide paid sick leave to employees who are experiencing flu-like or other respiratory illness symptoms and are either waiting for test results for COVID-19 or are under instruction from a healthcare provider to quarantine or isolate due to the risk of having COVID-19 (even if they aren’t being tested). Eligible employees are those who meet the previously stated criteria and work in certain fields (to see the full list, check out Presagia's resource page). If an employee tests positive for COVID-19 and has to be quarantined or self-isolated as per direction of a healthcare provider or an authorized government official, they are entitled to paid sick leave.
Eligible employees are entitled to two weeks (up to 80 hours).
D.C. Family and Medical Leave
D.C. enacted the D.C. ACT 23-326- COVID-19 Support Emergency Amendment Act on May 27, 2020, which temporarily amends the D.C. FMLA (DCFMLA). This Act expires the date the COVID-19 public health emergency expires. This Act expands the coverage of job-protected leave for COVID-19.
This leave applies to any employer, regardless of the number of persons in the District they employ. The Act expands the definition of employee to include those who must have been employed by an employer for at least 30 days before they request leave. Employees are entitled to this leave if they are unable to work during the COVID-19 public health emergency for the following reasons:
- They were recommended by a healthcare provider to quarantine or self-isolate because they or an individual they live with is at high-risk for serious illness from COVID-19.
- They need to care for a family member or an individual with whom the employee shares a household with who is under a government or healthcare provider’s order to quarantine or self-isolate.
- They need to care for a child whose school or place of care is closed, or whose care provider is unavailable.
Eligible employees are entitled to 16 weeks of job-protected leave.
DC Sick and Safe Leave
D.C. enacted the D.C. ACT 12-326- COVID-19 Support Emergency Amendment on May 27, 2020. This Act amends the D.C. Employees Sick and Safe Leave by adding a paid public health emergency leave requirement. This law applies to employers with between 50 and 499 employees and excludes employees who are healthcare providers. Eligible employees are those who have worked for the employer for a minimum of 15 days prior to requesting leave. The reasons for leave are the same reasons for which paid leave is available under the FFCRA (effective since April 1, 2020).
Eligible employees who work full time are entitled to take two full weeks of leave, up to 80 hours. Part time employees are entitled to the usual number of hours the employee works in a 2-week period.
Earned Sick and Safe Leave
The New Jersey Earned and Safe Leave Law was expanded in response to COVID-19. Covered employees can use their earned leave for the following reasons:
- A state of emergency declared by the governor that has led to the closure of their workplace or their child’s school or place of care.
- When the employee’s presence in the community or that of their family (in need of their care) would jeopardize the health of others.
- The employee is in quarantine or self-isolation or is caring for a family member who is in quarantine, as a result of suspected exposure to a contagious disease during a state of emergency.
Eligible employees may accrue up to 40 hours or five days of paid sick leave.
Family Leave Act
Amendments were made to the New Jersey Family Leave Act (NJFLA) to expand the definition of a serious health condition to include the following:
- An illness caused by an epidemic of a communicable disease.
- A known or suspected exposure to a communicable disease.
- Efforts to prevent the spread of a communicable disease, requiring in-home treatment or care of a family member of the employee.
The reasons for leave have also been expanded to include the following where the employee has to care for:
- A family member whose presence may jeopardize the health of others in the community as per the issuance of a healthcare provider, commissioner or other public authority.
- A family member who must be isolated or quarantined due to suspected exposure to the communicable disease, upon the recommendation of a healthcare provider or authority.
- Their child, due to closure of their school or place of care issued by a public health official.
Employees who are eligible include those who have been employed for 12 months or more and have worked 1,000 or more base hours during the last year. Eligible employees are entitled to up to 12 weeks of job protected unpaid family leave in a 24-month period.
Temporary Disability Benefits Law
The New Jersey Temporary Disability Benefits Law expands the definition of a serious health condition and eliminates the seven-day waiting period.
The State of New Jersey’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development site states, “A subject employer is automatically covered under the State Plan unless workers are covered under an approved private plan for temporary disability insurance.” Employees are eligible if they are employed by a covered employer or have been unemployed for less than two weeks. They must also have at least 20 base weeks or earned no less than 1,000 times the minimum wage, within the 52 calendar weeks before the week their period of disability begins. Eligible employees are entitled to up to 26 weeks of leave every 52 weeks.
New York Paid Family Leave
The New York Paid Family Leave was expanded and applies to employers with four or more employees. Eligible employees may take this leave for the following reasons:
- To care for a family member who has COVID-19.
- To care for a minor child who is under mandatory quarantine.
- If they are under a mandatory quarantine or self-isolation.
New York Sick Leave
The New York Sick Leave was also added for public and private employers and provides up to 14 days of paid leave. Entitlement to the paid portion of this leave is dependent on employer size and/or revenue. Check out our resource page for full details.
Eligible employees are entitled to take this leave for themselves or to care for a minor dependent child who is under a mandatory quarantine or self-isolation due to COVID-19.
Oregon temporarily expanded (until September 13, 2020) the qualifying conditions for the Oregon Family Leave Act in response to COVID-19. This leave applies to employers with 25 or more employees and includes public health emergency as a qualifying leave reason. Eligible employees may take this leave for a child whose school has closed due to a public emergency by a public health official (whether or not the child is sick).
Puerto Rico has extended their Minimum Salary, Vacation and Sick Leave Act to cover employees who have used up other paid leave, in response to the pandemic. This leave provides employees with up to five days of paid leave.This leave applies to private sector employees, however it excludes those who are classified as executives, administrators and professionals. During a state of emergency, employees who are sick or suspected of being sick due to the pandemic are covered by this leave, after they use any accrued sick leave.
Keeping up-to-date on the updated and new leave laws is crucial for yourself and your employees in order to maintain compliance. Keep an eye out for part three of this blog series, where we'll dive into city-specific leave policies related to COVID-19!