Pandemics and Politics: Leave Paid and Unpaid in the Spotlight

March 9, 2020 |

Politicians do not let a serious crisis go to waste and the coronavirus is no exception. Couching legislation as a response to a potential pandemic, Democrats in the House and Senate introduced a bill Friday that would mandate all employers allow workers to accrue seven days of paid sick leave and immediately provide 14 additional days when there is a public health emergency. (Press release here.)  If this reads cynically, it is because the “coronavirus” response is part of the Healthy Families Act, which has been kicking around for years and has been reintroduced now.

If passed, this measure would mandate paid sick time in the following instances:

  • when a child’s school closes due to a public health emergency
  • when an employer closes due to a public health emergency, or
  • an employee or a family member is quarantined or isolated due to a public health emergency.

Keep in mind the House and Senate just passed an $8.3 billion in emergency funding for federal, state and local agencies to address the coronavirus. The Senate is unlikely to pass this expansive measure at this point and we will keep you posted.

What has changed? So far nothing:

This map shows the current state and local sick leave mandates.

For now, the DOL guidelines remain unchanged on availability of leave under the FMLA. A good resource from the DOL on FMLA and pandemics can be found here.

Unfortunately this will not be the last word on coronavirus–wouldn’t that be great? We will keep you updated. Questions? We can help.


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