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New Coronavirus Relief Laws Require Paid Employee Leave

As part of sweeping legislation—the Families First Coronavirus Response Act—signed into law by President Donald Trump, two laws were enacted that provide workers with paid leave for reasons related to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

One of the new leave provisions, the “Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act,” allows 12 weeks of partially compensated FMLA leave to care for a child whose school or child care facility has been closed due to COVID-19. The leave applies only to workers who have been employed by their current employer for 30 days.

The other new law providing employee leave, the “Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act,” requires employers to provide 80 hours of paid sick time to employees in specified circumstances, including:

  • There is a quarantine or isolation order for the employee or someone the employee is caring for related to COVID-19;

  • An employee has received medical advice to self-quarantine related to COVID-19;

  • The employee has symptoms of COVID-19;

  • The employee’s child’s school or child care facility is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19; or

  • A specified substantially similar condition.

Employers with 500 employees or more are exempt from the laws, and employers may exclude employees who are health care providers and emergency responders. The laws take effect within 15 days of passage; the leave benefits will expire on December 31, 2020.

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