As many employees may require to take time off for work due to illness or quarantine, the Department of Labor (DOL) recently signed into law the Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) Act providing 80 hours of paid sick leave for eligible full-time employees and the average number of hours worked during a standard two-week period for part-time workers. The Act applies for all United States Employers who employ less than 500 employees. Employers with less than 50 employees, however, may apply for an exemption from the DOL.
In effect from April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020, EPSL may apply in addition to any prior existing paid leave already provided by an employer. EPSL should be used prior to other forms of paid leave and the individual’s employer cannot coerce employees to exhaust their other forms of leave before applying EPSL. Additionally, there is no accrual period or wait period before EPSL may be used.
An employee is entitled to use EPSL under six circumstances:
- The employee is subject to a governmental (federal, state, local) quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19.
- The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19.
- The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 has sought or is seeking a medical diagnosis.
- The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to self-quarantine or governmental quarantine.
- The employee is caring for their minor child if said child’s school or place of care has been closed, or if the place of care is unavailable, due to COVID-19 precautions.
- The employee is experiencing any other substantively comparable condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor.
For Categories 1-3, paid sick leave is paid at the employee’s regular rate and is capped at $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate. For Categories 4-6, paid sick leave is paid at 2/3 of the employee’s regular rate and is capped at $200 per day and $2,000 in the aggregate.
The Act also provides quarterly payroll tax credits to employers required to pay EPSL under the above conditions. The credits are allowed against the employers’ portion of Social Security taxes.
For more information on EPSL, please visit the DOL’s website at https://www.dol.gov.