Editor's Note: This FAQ was originally published by A Better Balance. We're publishing this in two posts on the MomsRising blog; you can read the original in its entirety on the website of A Better Balance here.
Congress passed, and the President has signed, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which is effective from April 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020. Congress also passed and the President signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which is generally effective on March 27, 2020. The CARES Act amended FFCRA with respect to some sick time provisions and also provides expanded unemployment insurance benefits. Below are responses to some Frequently Asked Questions by workers about the new laws as they pertain to paid sick time. You can read A Better Balance’s statement about the passage of FFCRA and how we are fighting for additional protections, here.
Am I covered by the FFCRA law?
You are probably covered if you work as an employee in:
- Any public agency regardless of size; or
- A private entity with less than 500 employees total.
You may also potentially be entitled to tax credits or special unemployment benefits under these laws if you are self-employed (see below).
Please note that there are some exceptions described below. You may be entitled to additional protections under relevant state or local sick time laws.
I am not currently able to work or telework because I have coronavirus symptoms and am seeking a diagnosis or have been ordered by the government or advised by a health care provider to quarantine. What can I do to receive income while I’m not working?
You can receive 80 hours (10 eight-hour work days) of emergency paid sick time off from your employer if you work full time, regardless of when you started working there. If you work part time, you can receive a proportional amount of time (see below). You must be paid 100% of either your regular rate of pay or the federal, state, or local minimum wage where you are employed (whichever one is greater). However, your employer isn’t obligated under emergency sick time to pay you more than $511 per day and $5,110 total for personal care, meaning caring for yourself not others.
You may also be eligible for additional income under state temporary disability insurance or unemployment insurance. Note that many eligibility requirements have changed due to coronavirus, so you should search for information provided by your state about unemployment insurance.
In addition to state unemployment insurance, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed by Congress, and signed into law. It provides benefits to workers who may need income, even if they are not eligible for emergency sick time or family leave. Please see below for more information.
I am not currently able to work or telework because I need to care for someone else who has been ordered by the government or advised by a health care provider to quarantine due to coronavirus.
If you work full time, you may use your 80 hours (10 eight-hour work days) of emergency paid sick time off for this reason at a rate of 2/3 of the greater of either your regular rate of pay or the federal, state, or local minimum wage where you are employed. However, your employer isn’t obligated under emergency sick time to provide you more than $200 per day and $2,000 total if you are caring for another individual. If you work part time, you can receive a proportional amount of time (see below).
Note: The law does not set limits on which individuals you can provide care for due to covered coronavirus-related reasons.
I am not currently able to work or telework because my child’s school or daycare is closed due to a public health crisis related to coronavirus, or my child’s childcare provider is unavailable due to the coronavirus.
You may use your 80 hours of emergency paid sick time off, if you work full time, to receive pay while you are out of work. You must be paid 2/3 of the greater of either your regular rate of pay or the federal, state, or local minimum wage where you are employed. However, your employer isn’t obligated under emergency sick time to pay you more than $200 per day or $2,000 total if you are caring for your child. If you work part time, you can receive a proportional amount of time (see below).
If you have been employed by your employer for at least 30 days, then you may also be entitled to up to 12 weeks of emergency paid family leave, but only when your child’s school/place of care is closed, or childcare is unavailable, due to coronavirus. You may be required to follow your employer’s notice procedures to use emergency paid family leave. However, the first ten days of emergency paid family leave doesn’t have to be paid. During these ten days, you may choose to use your emergency paid sick time described above, or any accrued vacation, personal, emergency sick, or medical leave as income. Afterwards, you must be paid at an amount no less than 2/3 of your regular rate of pay and based on the number of hours you would otherwise normally be scheduled. Under federal law, your employer isn’t obligated to provide emergency paid family leave in excess of $200 per day and $10,000 total.
Generally, what are the situations for which I can take emergency paid sick time under the law? In particular, if I don’t currently have any COVID-19 symptoms, but am afraid I may have been exposed to the virus, can I use emergency paid sick time?
The law’s emergency paid sick time provisions may apply to you if you are experiencing any of the following situations. This law covers workers who are unable to work or telework because they:
1) have coronavirus symptoms and are seeking a medical diagnosis;
2) are subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to coronavirus;
3) have been advised to self-quarantine by a health care provider;
4) are caring for a child whose school/childcare has been closed or for whom childcare is unavailable due to coronavirus; or
5) are caring for an individual who is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to coronavirus, or who has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to coronavirus.
It’s important to note that even if you do not have symptoms currently, if you have been exposed to someone who has coronavirus symptoms or who has tested positive for coronavirus, your health care provider may advise you to isolate and this can be a reason for coverage under the law. Additionally, many state and local emergency orders issued by public officials or health care officials are ordering isolation for at risk populations (those over 65 or 70 and those with underlying health issues). Those orders may be construed as isolation orders, and even if they are not, a health care provider may be willing to make the recommendation of isolation or quarantine if you are in a high-risk group even if you have not been exposed. Furthermore, you should be aware that even if you are not subject to any isolation orders, you may be able to use any accrued personal or vacation time to take time off of work, or you may have rights under state or local paid leave laws. Finally, if you are afraid to go to work because you have a disability and may be more at risk than others, please see this page about the Americans with Disabilities Act.