Your Employee Has COVID – Now What?
By Mary Hollis Stuck September 04, 2020
With the virus COVID-19 still surging through the country, it is inevitable that you or someone you know has or will end up catching it. You are taking the necessary precautions, both on a personal and a professional level, but some things just can’t be avoided. While you may have an excellent in-office plan for keeping things as safe as possible, one of your employees could very well fall ill with coronavirus. It’s important to have knowledge of what’s expected of you, as well as a plan to handle the situation, should it arise.
On April 1, 2020, the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division passed two new Acts as part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The two acts, the Emergency Paid Leave Sick Act and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act, are effective from April 2, 2020 until December 31, 2020. These acts allow employers to file for a tax credit should their employee miss work due to personally being quarantined because of, or ill from the virus, as well as employees who miss work due to having to care for a child whose school or childcare is unavailable due to the virus. The EPSLA and Emergency FMLA both apply to private companies with fewer than 500 employees.
As per usual, many rules and regulations are put in place to protect both the employees and the employer in either of these situations. Employers are required to post information regarding these acts for all full and part time employees to see. There can be no discrimination or retaliation of employees who must utilize these benefits. On the other hand, employees must be employed for 30 calendar days to become eligible for their wages to be paid under this tax credit.
If you or one of your employees contracts COVID-19 personally, or is required by government mandate or by recommendation from a healthcare professional to be under quarantine due to COVID-19 exposure, they may receive up to two weeks (80 hours) of full paid wages
If you or one of your employees contracts COVID-19 personally, or is required by government mandate or by recommendation from a healthcare professional to be under quarantine due to COVID-19 exposure, they may receive up to two weeks (80 hours) of full paid wages. The hours are calculated based on the employee’s regular work schedule, or their averaged hours for the previous year, if no schedule has been provided. Should an employee regularly average more than 80 hours per two weeks, they are not eligible for overtime benefits through this Act. For instance, if a full time employee is schedule for 34 hours a week, they are eligible for 68 hours of pay instead of 80. There is a cap of $511 per day, or $5110 maximum within two weeks. Part time employees are eligible for paid wages based on their scheduled hours, or the average of the hours worked the previous six months.
In regards to the Emergency FMLA, employees are not at risk of penalty for missing work due to a child who has either contracted the virus, or is unable to attend school or childcare because of a closure due to COVID-19. This is put in place to protect parents or guardians of children whose school or daycare may be closed as a precaution to protect their students against COVID-19. These employees are entitled to paid leave of up to 10 weeks, and unpaid leave up to two weeks. As calculated with the EPSLA, hours are paid up to 80 per week, with no overtime benefits.
The COVID-19 pandemic is an ever changing problem for our nation, and across the world. While adaptations have to be made regularly, it is important that you , as a practice owner, have a plan in place to protect yourself, your practice, and your staff. In many states, face covering remain mandatory; unfortunately, the protocol you have in place may not be 100% effective for staying virus free. Be sure to maintain utmost cleanliness and high levels of sanitization in your office and your personal life, to limit your risk. However, remember to stay informed on the changes that take place, especially with government relief programs and policies. Have regular discussions with your staff to be sure they understand everything you are doing to protect them. Make sure staff are aware that, should they feel ill, they stay home and seek treatment if necessary. The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act are in place to protect both them and you, while we all deal with this pandemic together.