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Understanding Sick Leave and Family & Medical Leave during COVID-19

May 2020

I need to miss work because of COVID-19, but I don’t have paid leave time available. What can I do?

On April 1, 2020, a new law went into effect that requires some employers to give their employees paid leave for reasons related to COVID-19. This law will remain in place until December 31, 2020.

Necesito faltar al trabajo debido a COVID-19, pero no tengo tiempo libre disponible. ¿Que puedo hacer?

El 1 de abril de 2020, entró en vigencia una nueva ley que exige que algunos empleadores den a sus empleados licencias laboral pagadas por razones relacionadas con COVID-19. Esta ley permanecerá vigente hasta el 31 de diciembre de 2020.

Who can get paid leave time under the new law?

If you work at a company with fewer than 500 employees, you can probably get paid sick leave.

  • Larger companies (like Target, Walmart, Stop and Shop) don’t have to offer leave under this law.

  • Employers with fewer than 50 employees may be eligible for an exemption from providing paid leave to care for a child whose school or day care is closed due to COVID-19 if doing so might cause the business to have to close.

  • Health and emergency response employers can also opt out of offering employees paid emergency sick leave.

How do I qualify for paid sick leave?

You can get up to 80 hours (2 weeks) paid sick leave if you cannot work or you cannot work from home (telework) and any of these are true:

  • You are subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19. This includes
    • orders to stay at home, and
    • government advice to certain people to stay at home, isolate, or quarantine due to age or certain medical conditions.
  • You have been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19-related concerns.

  • You are having symptoms of COVID-19 and are trying to get a medical diagnosis.

  • You are caring for an immediate family member (or someone who regularly lives with you) who
    • is subject to a quarantine or isolation order, or
    • who has been advised to self-quarantine.
  • You are caring for a child because their school or daycare is closed or because your child-care provider is unavailable because of COVID-19. (Note: The child must be under 18, or over 18 if they are incapable of self-care due to mental or physical disability).

How much paid leave can I take, and for how long?

You can get up to 80 hours (2 weeks) of paid leave from your employer. Full-time workers get 80 hours. Part-time workers get the average number of hours they worked each week based on a typical 2-week time period.

Emergency sick leave is in addition to and not instead of any other paid sick leave benefits that you already had. Your employer must allow you to use your Emergency Paid Sick Leave before you use any other sick leave you had before (whether it was provided by your employer or by state law).

How much sick leave pay will I get?

If you are caring for yourself, you will get your full wages, up to a cap of $511 day and $5,111 total.

If you are caring for household member or child out of school or child care, you will get 2/3 of your wages, up to $200 day or $2000 total.

Who pays me?

Workers are paid by their employer.

What if I need to take more than two weeks of leave time?

If you need additional leave at the end of 2 weeks, you may be able to take an additional 10 weeks of paid leave if:

  • you are unable to work/telework because your child’s school or daycare is closed due to COVID-19, or
  • your child’s care provider is unavailable due to Covid-19.

Who is eligible for the additional 10 weeks of leave?

You must have worked for at least 30 days to be eligible for the leave. You are also eligible if

  • you were laid off on or after March 1, 2020, and
  • you worked for the employer at least 30 of the last 60 calendar days prior to the layoff, and
  • you were rehired by the employer.

How much leave can I take?

You can take up to 12 weeks.

How much will I get paid?

The first 10 days (2 weeks) are unpaid, but these days can be combined with other leave. For example, you could use Emergency Paid Sick Leave time to cover the first 80 hours (2 weeks). You can also use any vacation, personal leave, or sick leave you have for the 2 unpaid weeks.

After 10 days, your employer must pay you 2/3 of your wages, up to $200 per day or $10,000 total.

Who pays me?

You are paid by your employer.

What if my employer won’t let me take leave or won’t pay me during my leave?

File a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division. You can file online at or call 1-866-487-9243, TTY:1-877-889-5627.

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