There is new federal legislation called the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) that many Massachusetts workers can take advantage of for the rest of 2020 if you meet certain criteria. There are two types of leaves under the FFCRA – 1 is a short-term, paid leave for a max of 2 weeks for people affected by coronavirus in a number of ways. The 2nd type of leave is only for people who need to care for their children because their school or daycare is closed. 

Because this legislation is so new – and temporary - some employers have been slow to let their employees use it and many workers do not know it even exists – but it is important information to have. Here are a few useful things to know:

  • You are entitled to use this leave BEFORE you start dipping into your own PTO or earned sick time;
  • You are entitled to take this leave ASAP before providing any documentation to your employer. This doesn’t mean you won’t have to provide documentation at some point-- it just means that your employer cannot force you to wait to receive paperwork before they approve your leave;
  • Your employer cannot require you to find your own coverage; 
  • Your employer cannot fire or discriminate or retaliate against you for requesting or taking leave;
  • You can only utilize these leaves if you cannot telework instead.

Here are the basic facts about the short-term and long-term paid sick leave. 

SHORT-TERM CORONAVIRUS PAID SICK LEAVE (“Federal Emergency Paid Sick Leave”)

WHAT ARE THE QUALIFYING SITUATIONS?

  • You are sick with COVID-19, have symptoms of COVID-19 and are seeking a medical diagnosis;
  • You are subject to a federal, state or local quarantine/shelter-at-home/stay-at-home order
  • You are caring for an individual who is quarantined (friend or family)
  • You are caring for a child whose school, daycare or child care provider is closed for reasons related to coronavirus
  • IT DOESN'T MATTER HOW LONG YOU'VE WORKED FOR YOUR EMPLOYER!

WHO IS COVERED?

  • Private sector employees of companies with less than 500 employees
  • Government workers
  • Self employed - You are entitled to reimbursement by the federal government in the form of refundable credits against employment taxes
  • Employers with under 50 employees may deny leave for family care ONLY if employee leaving would cause significant damage to the company because they cannot operate without the employee, are unable to find a temporary replacement and the employee not being present during a leave would cause expenses to exceed revenue and keep the employer from being able to operate
  • Health providers & emergency responder employers may choose to NOT provide leave‚Äč

HOW LONG?

  • Up to 2 weeks

HOW MUCH MONEY?

If you are caring for yourself…
Full-time workers: 100% of pay (capped at $511/day $5111/total)
Part time workers: 100% of pay – using average hours worked in a 2 week period per week (example: 1 week you work 10 hours, the next week you work 20 hours, so the average of these 2 numbers is 10+20=30 30/2=15 hours per week average. The paid leave you qualify for will be 15 hours of pay each week.)

If you are caring for someone else, including a child who is out of school…
Full time workers: 2/3 of wages (capped at $200/day $2000/total).
Part time workers: 2/3 of wages (using 2 weeks of work to calculate your average hours; see example above)

worker holding cleaners to disinfect from covid-19LONG-TERM CORONAVIRUS PAID SICK LEAVE
(“Emergency Family Medical Leave Act”)

WHAT ARE THE QUALIFYING SITUATIONS?

  • You have to care for a child whose daycare or school is closed due to COVID-19
  • Must have worked for your employer for at least 30 days

WHO IS COVERED?

  • Employees of private sector companies with under 500 employees
  • NON-FEDERAL Government workers
  • 1099 contractors/self-employed people can pay themselves for leave and be refunded in the form of credits against employment taxes
  • Employers with under 50 employees may deny leave ONLY if employee leaving would cause significant damage to the company because they cannot operate without the employee, are unable to find a temporary replacement and the employee not being present during a leave would cause expenses to exceed revenue and keep the employer from being able to operate
  • Employers of health care providers and emergency responders may choose to deny leave

HOW LONG?

  • Up to 12 weeks 

HOW MUCH MONEY?

  • The first 2 weeks of this leave are unpaid – with the idea being you utilize either the short-term emergency sick leave (described above) or your own PTO to get paid for this period of time.
  • The next 10 weeks of this long-term leave:
    • Full time workers: 2/3 of your regular pay (capped at $200/day and $10,000 total)
    • Part time workers: 2/3 of wages (using 2 weeks of work to calculate your average hours)

All your standard MA wage and hour laws still apply, even in a pandemic. This means you must still be accruing sick time if you work for a company of more than 11 people, you must still be paid 1.5x your hourly rate if you work over 40 hours, you must still receive your paycheck within a week of the pay period ending, and so on... This is the law. If you are experiencing problems getting the money you earned on payday or your employer isn't following the laws in Massachusetts then you need to contact the experienced employment law lawyers here at Phillips Garcia today. If you aren't being paid right, chances are neither are your co-workers and we are Massachusetts class action attorneys too. We represent employees and we stand up for employee's rights. 

Call our office today at 508.998.0800 or fill out the contact form at the bottom of the page to tell us about your situation today.