April 14, 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates

A new addition to our information initiative as it relates to COVID-19 has been posted to our website.   We have created a comprehensive set of FAQs for you to reference.  We have addressed some general FAQs as well as more specific ones regarding the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act.

As promised, more updates for specific locations are below:

District of Columbia
The COVID-19 Response Supplemental Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 was passed by the D.C. council and awaits Mayor Bowser’s signature.  Once signed, it will remain in effect for 90 days.  The law requires employers with at least 50 employees and fewer than 500 to provide declaration of emergency (DOE) leave for any reason for which they may take leave under the FFCRA.
While DOE leave matches the FFCRA for leave reasons, it expands the definition of family member to include spouse, domestic partner (as identified by an employee), parents (and parents of a spouse), children (including foster children and grandchildren), spouses of children, brothers and sisters (and their spouses), a child who lives with an employee and for whom the employee permanently assumes and discharges parental responsibility, and a person with whom the employee shares or has shared, for not less than the preceding 12 months, a mutual residence and with whom the employee maintains a committed relationship.  Other notes:

  • Amount of sick aligns with the FFCRA (80 hours for full-time employees and for part-time employees, the number of hours equal to the usual hours worked in a two-week period).
  • There are no tax credits for employers.
  • Length of service requirement is 15 days as opposed to 30 for the FFCRA.
  • The DC Act allows employers to require employees to exhaust accrued leave mandated by federal or District law, or provided by the employer’s policies, prior to using paid DOE leave.
  • Employees must provide 48 hours’ advance notice of need for leave.
  • Employers may require employees to provide certification from a medical professional certifying that the employee needs DOE leave only if the employer contributes payments towards a health insurance plan on behalf of the employee.Furthermore, certification may be required only if an employee uses three or more consecutive working days of paid leave.Employees have until one week after returning to work to provide documentation.

San Jose
San Jose issued the COVID-19 Emergency Paid Leave Ordinance on April 7, 2020, which applies to employers that are not required – in whole or in part – to provide paid sick leave benefits to employees under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).  The Ordinance essentially expands the FFCRA to employers with more than 500 employees. Of note:

  • The benefit is only available for employees who leave their residence to perform essential work (as defined here).
  • “Employee” Is defined as a person employed by a covered employer and who has worked at least two hours within the geographic boundaries of San Jose.
  • Paid Sick Leave is available immediately – no length of service requirement.
  • Reasons for leave:
    1. Employee is subject to quarantine or isolation by federal, state or local order due to COVID-19, or is caring for someone who is quarantined or isolated due to COVID-19,
    2. Employee is advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19 or is caring for someone who is so advised by a healthcare provider,
    3. Employee experiences symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking medical diagnosis, or
    4. Employee is caring for a minor child because a school or daycare is closed due to COVID-19.
  • Amount of paid sick leave matches the FFCRA – full-time employees receive 80 hours and part-time employees receiving the average number of hours worked over a two-week period.
  • Benefit pay rate – an employee using paid sick leave for themselves shall be paid their regular rate of pay, up to $511 per day, not to exceed an aggregate of $5,110; those using sick time to care for another person, shall be paid at two-thirds of their regular rate of pay, up to $200 per day, not to exceed the aggregate of $2,000.
  • Important – if an employer already provides employees with paid personal leave equivalent to the paid sick time required by the Ordinance, they do not need to provide additional paid sick leave.
  • The Ordinance does not mention tax credits for employers providing paid sick leave.
  • The Ordinance is in effect until December 31, 2020.

Effective April 8, 2020 and until June 7, 2020, employers within the Seattle city limits may not require a doctor’s note or healthcare provider verification for an employee’s use of paid sick/safe time because it is an unreasonable burden during the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak.  Employers must identify and provide alternatives for the employee to meet the employer’s verification requirement.

If you have any questions, please reach out to compliance_services@thelarkincompany.com

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