03.20.2020 | COVID-19

Summary of Emergency Leave Law

COVID-19 Client Alerts:

Summary of Emergency Leave Law

New Emergency Federal Sick Leave and FMLA Provisions
The Families First Coronovirus Response Act includes several  important items, including funding for unemployment and food assistance.  It also creates new sick leave and paid FMLA provisions, which are summarized in today’s update.

Sick Leave  

The emergency sick leave law requires employers of less than 500 employees to provide paid sick to all employees (beginning day 1 of their employment) for the following reasons:

  1. Employee is subject to governmental quarantine or isolation order
  2. Employee is advised by health care provider to self-quarantine
  3. Employee has symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking medical advice
  4. Employee is caring for a person in categories 1-3 above
  5. Employee is caring for his or her child whose school or child care is closed
  6. Employee is experiencing a substantially similar condition to be determined by the Secretary of Health & Human Services


Full-time employees are entitled to 80 hours of sick leave. Part-time employees are entitled to the average number of hours worked over a two-week period.

The rate of pay depends on the reason for the leave. An employee taking sick leave under items 1-3 above is paid his or her regular rate of pay (up to $511/day and $5110 total). An employee taking sick leave under items 4-6 above is paid at 2/3 the rate of his or her regular rate of pay (up to $200/day and $2000 total).

You may not require employees to take other paid leave before they take this sick leave.


The emergency FMLA expansion requires employers of less than 500 employees to provide paid FMLA leave to employees who have been employed at least 30 calendar days only when the employees need leave to care for their children whose school or daycare is closed.

Employers of less than 50 employees may receive a waiver if the leave would jeopardize the viability of the business, under regulations to be issued by the Secretary of Labor.

Employees taking this leave will be unpaid for the first ten days. Employees have the option to substitute other paid leave available to them. After the first ten days, the leave will be paid at 2/3 of the employee’s regular rate, based on the amount of hours normally worked (capped at $200/day and $10,000 total).

Employer Tax Credit

Employers will be entitled to take the amounts paid for sick leave and FMLA benefits under these emergency measures as credits against payroll taxes. Should the credit be insufficient to cover the costs paid for leave, the excess will be refundable to the employers. Employers should seek specific advice from their accountants or other qualified professional regarding these credits.


Copyright © 2020, Murphy Austin Adams Schoenfeld LLP. All rights reserved. Please be assured that we make every effort to make certain that the information contained in this alert is current at the time this email was delivered. Because laws and legislation are constantly changing, please contact us if you are unsure whether this material is still current. Nothing contained herein should be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended to be for general information purposes only. We assume no liability in connection with the use of the information contained in this article. Given the rapidly evolving nature of legal and governmental responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, unfolding events likely will supersede many of the issues discussed in these updates. We encourage you to contact our lawyers directly for the most current information and counsel regarding legal and governmental responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please contact us to answer any questions you may have.

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