COVID-19 Sick Time Rules by State

The following is a short summary of recent sick time changes related to COVID-19 around the country. In general, when there is a conflict of federal, state and local laws, the law most beneficial to the employee prevails. Clients are encouraged to contact their Engage HR Consultant for further information.

If a state is not listed, it means that as of April 27th, no COVID-19 specific sick time laws for private employers have been passed.

No paid leave updates for Coronavirus. The Alaska Family Leave Act (AFLA) provides a job-protected absence for a qualifying condition.

  • The AFLA provides a job-protected absence for up to 18 weeks in a 24-month period to eligible employees for a qualifying serious medical condition. It also provides a job-protected absence for up to 18 weeks in a 12-month period to eligible employees for pregnancy, childbirth or adoption.
  • The FMLA provides a job-protected absence for up to 12 weeks in a 12-month period to eligible employees for a qualifying condition.

 

The Industrial Commission of Arizona issued FAQs regarding earned paid sick leave in the wake of COVID-19, and noted that Arizona employees may use their available paid sick time in the following circumstances:

  • The employee or one of their family members contracts COVID-19;
  • The employee or one of their family members needs to be tested for COVID-19;
  • The employee’s employer is closed due to an order of a public official due to COVID-19;
  • The employee’s child’s school has been closed by an order of a public official due to COVID-19; or
  • If health authorities having jurisdiction, or a health care provider, determines that “the employee’s or family member’s presence in the community may jeopardize the health of others because of his or her exposure to COVID-19 – whether or not the employee or family member has actually contracted COVID-19.”

To provide clarity to California employers and employees, the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) issued FAQs regarding the enforcement of paid sick leave, employers’ ability to request documentation from employees, and compensation.  The DIR clarified that employees may use their available paid sick leave for preventative care, such as “self-quarantine as a result of potential exposure to COVID-19 if quarantine is recommended by civil authorities,” and for “other situations where an employee may exercise their right to take paid sick leave, or an employer may allow paid sick leave for preventative care.”  Employers must keep in mind that they cannot force an employee to use paid leave, as it is employees’ choice whether to use their available sick leave. The DIR also reminded employees that if they exhaust their available sick leave time, they can use their available vacation or paid time off to cover their absence(s).

For employees, who exhaust their sick leave, vacation and PTO, and work for employers with 25 or more employees, such employees may take school-related activities leave for up to 40 hours per year, in part, for school emergency, that includes the “closure or unexpected unavailability of the school or child care provided, excluding planned holidays.” Whether an employee will be paid for such leave will depend on their employer’s leave policy.

The DIR also confirmed that reporting time pay does apply during a state of emergency, provided that the state of emergency does not include a recommendation to cease operations in the state.

To help essential food-sector workers, on April 16, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order, granting two weeks of supplemental paid sick leave to essential food-sector employees, and requiring more frequent handwashing at food facilities.  Additionally, the Mayors of Los Angeles, San Jose and San Francisco have adopted temporary paid sick leave laws, requiring certain employers exempt from the FFCRA to provide such leave to workers in those localities. See this comprehensive California-specific Engage Client Alert for details.

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment issued amended Colorado Health Emergency Leave with Pay (“Colorado HELP”) Rules on March 26. Please see the state specific Engage Client Alert issued on April 1 for details.

 

While the state has not specifically passed COVID-19 related sick time, the state sick time laws may apply to COVID-19.

While Delaware has not implemented specific COVID-19 time off, they did encourage employers to provide flexible time off policies.

The Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act of 2008 was expanded for a period of 90 days. Employers with employees between 40 and 499 employees must provide up to 80 hours of “declaration of emergency” leave for any reason covered by Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). However covered family members follow the definition under the Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act. Please speak with your HR Consultant for more information.

While the state has not specifically passed COVID-19 related sick time, local sick time laws, such as Miami-Dade sick time laws may apply to COVID-19.

While the state has not specifically passed COVID-19 related sick time, the Illinois Sick Leave Act and local laws, such as the Chicago and Cook County Sick Leave ordinances may apply to COVID-19.

Iowa employers must follow their own policies and practices for providing time off but are not required to create new policies. The Iowa Workforce Development encourages employees to contact their employers regarding “potential telecommuting, sick leave, PTO, FMLA, Disability, Worker’s Compensation and other options they may be offering” in the following circumstances:

  • Stay home for the COVID-19 incubation period;
  • When the employer asks the employee to stay home due to traveling abroad or being in contact with someone who visited an affected region;
  • If an employee is in mandatory quarantine because of suspicion of having COVID-19;
  • If an employee is ill because of COVID-19 and unable to work;
  • If an employee contracts the COVID-19 while on the job; and
  • If an employee’s dependent, family member or child has school cancellations and they have to stay home and care for them.

Under the Maine Family Medical Leave Requirements Act (“MFMLRA”) laws, an employee that has worked for the same employer for at least 12 consecutive months is entitled to up to 10 work weeks of job-protected unpaid Medical Leave in any two years unless the work site has fewer than 15 employees.

Maine’s Family Sick Leave laws allow that if an employer provides paid leave, then the employer shall allow an employee to use the paid leave for the care of an immediate family member who is ill. This does not apply to the illness of an employee. The employee can choose what type of leave they are going to use, if the employer provides multiple benefits, such as sick, vacation, or personal with limitations.

 

The Maryland Department of Labor’s Division of Labor and Industry enforces the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act, also known as earned Sick and Safe Leave, which may be applicable to employees who need to take off from work due to COVID-19. 

As of 4/27, COVID-19 specific sick time for private employers was not passed in the state. Other state laws such as the Massachusetts Small Necessities Leave Act may be applicable.

On March 18, 2020, the City of Minneapolis, Minnesota issued a frequently asked questions guide (FAQs) regarding the application of Minneapolis’ Sick and Safe Time Ordinance to absences related to COVID-19.  The Minneapolis Sick and Safe Time Ordinance covers any employer that has a physical location within the boundaries of the City of Minneapolis; and employs employees who work within Minneapolis for at least 80 hours in a year. 

Employers with six (6) or more employees must provide paid sick and safe time.  Employers with five (5) or fewer employees must provide ​sick and safe time, but they may choose to provide it unpaid.  Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, sick and safe time included illness or injury, medical treatment or preventative care, domestic or sexual assault, and care of a family member.​ In general, it is compensated at normal rates of pay and affects employers that do not already provide comparable or more generous time off.

The FAQs state that an employee may now also use accrued sick and safe leave for absences related to:

1. Coronavirus screening;

2. Care or quarantine due to COVID-19 symptoms or infection;

3. Quarantine following close contact with a COVID-19-infected or symptomatic person;

4. Caring for family members whose school or place of care was closed due to COVID-19; and

5. Workplace closures by order of a public official.

The FAQs clarify that business closures without an order of a public official, or employee absences without reason to believe the employee has contracted the illness are not covered uses under the ordinance.  Finally, employees may only use sick and safe time to cover scheduled shifts or the shifts the employee would have expected to work had their work not been ordered closed by a public official.

All covered employees, including employees of "non-resident" employers, are entitled to accrued sick and safe time based upon hours worked in the City of Minneapolis since July 1, 2017.

A link to Minneapolis’ Sick and Safe Time Ordinance FAQs, is provided below:http://sicktimeinfo.minneapolismn.gov/uploads/9/6/3/1/96313024/covid-19_and_sst_3_18_20.pdf

The full text of the Minneapolis Ordinance is available at: http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/government/ord/index.htm

The city of Duluth clarified that time under their Earned Sick and Safe Time ordinance can also be used for COVID-19 related issues.

Nevada has an existing state mandatory paid sick leave that went into effect January 1, 2020. The Department of Labor indicated that employees subject to a mandatory quarantine order by a government entity can elect to use their state mandatory paid sick leave but cannot be required to do so.

 

  • Employees who test positive or have symptoms of COVID-19 and are unable to work (1) may be entitled to use accrued, unused earned sick leave time under the New Jersey Earned Sick Leave Law, (2) may be eligible for temporary disability insurance, and (3) may be eligible for Workers’ Compensation benefits.
  • To the extent an employee’s place of work is closed, either temporarily or otherwise due to COVID-19, or if an employee’s hours are reduced by more than 20 percent a week, the employee may be eligible for full or partial unemployment benefits.
  • If an employer sends an employee home because there is a possibility the employee was or may have been exposed to COVID-19, the employee may be eligible for unemployment benefits. The DOL noted that such a claim would be considered a temporary layoff, and employees seeking such benefits would be relieved of the obligation to show they are able, available, and actively seeking work in order to receive these benefits.
  • Employees may be entitled to use accrued, unused earned sick leave time under the New Jersey Earned Sick Leave Law if they are (1) told to self-quarantine due to COVID-19, (2) unable to work because of a workplace closure or the closure of a child’s school by order of a public official because of COVID-19, or (3) are caring for a relative who has COVID-19 or symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Employees may be eligible for Family Leave Insurance (FLI) if they are caring for a family member who is confirmed to have COVID-19 or has symptoms of the virus.

For the complete guidance, visit this link: https://www.nj.gov/labor/worker-protections/earnedsick/covid.shtml

The New Jersey Family Leave Act, (“NJFLA”) has been expanded in its coverage to allow employees forced to take time off to care for a family member during the COVID-19 outbreak with up to 12 weeks of unpaid family leave in a 24-month period with job protection.

Employees will be eligible for leave to care for a family member as a result of an epidemic of a communicable disease, or efforts to prevent spread of a communicable disease. These job protections will extend to employees requiring leave to provide care or treatment for their child if the child's school or place of care is closed in response to a public health emergency.

For details, please see the state-specific Engage Client Alert issued on April 7.

The state has clarified that existing sick time laws may be used for COVID-19 related time off.

Employees can also use sick time if their child's school is closed by order of a public official for a public health emergency.

On March 18, 2020, the City of Philadelphia announced an expansion to its “Promoting Healthy Families and Workplace Act” as result of the coronavirus outbreak.

The Act applies to all full-time and part-time employees who work 40 hours in a year (excludes independent contractors, seasonal workers, adjunct professors, interns, health-care professional pool employees, state and federal employees and employees hired for a term of less than six months).

Under the law, employees accrue one hour of sick time for every 40 hours worked (including overtime hours). Employees who are exempt administrative, executive or professional employees accrue sick time based on the employee’s normal workweek or a 40-hour workweek, whichever is less.

Employers must allow employees to use the 40 hours of paid sick time on the employee’s oral or written request for his or her own qualifying need, or that of a “family member,” for:

  • Diagnosis, care, or treatment of an existing health condition;
  • Preventative care; or
  • Issues related to the employee being a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.

Fair Workweek Ordinance - The City also announced that it will not enforce the predictability pay requirements of the City’s Fair Workweek Ordinance. This policy had required covered businesses to pay compensation to employees when the employee’s schedule was changed from the employer’s estimate of expected scheduled hours.

The City of Pittsburgh has provided guidelines on its website regarding the city’s Paid Sick Days Act. 

The Act requires employers with 15 or more employees to allow employees to accrue up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per year for every 35 hours worked for an employer within the geographic boundaries of Pittsburgh.

Employers with fewer than 15 workers must allow employees to accrue paid sick leave up to 24 hours per year, and only unpaid sick time during the first year the Act is in effect (employees may accrue paid sick time beginning one year after the effective date of the Act).

The state expanded use of Temporary Caregiver Insurance (TCI) to include if a person has to take leave in order to care for a child whose school/childcare has been interrupted due to COVID-19. Under TCI, employees are entitled up to four weeks of paid leave to care for someone with a serious illness. In addition, Rhode Island also offers Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI), which employees may qualify for if a health care provider certifies them to be functionally unable to perform their customary and regular work duties.

Employees can also use paid sick leave under the Healthy and Safe Families and Workplaces Act (HSFWA), which requires employers with more than 18 employees to provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave. This time may be taken for COVID-19 related illnesses, or to care for someone with COVID-19, if they have to self-quarantine, and if the employee’s place of business is closed by order of a public official or to care for a child whose school or place of care has been closed by order of a public health official.

While the state has not passed COVID-19 specific sick time for private employers, the Vermont Earned Sick Time Act may apply.  

Washington has issued guidance and common questions on its paid sick leave law and COVID-19. The guidance clarifies that an employee can use accrued paid sick leave if their place of business is shut down by a public official due to COVID-19. Employees can use accrued paid sick leave if their child's school or place of care is closed due to COVID-19.

An employer cannot require an employee to work from home instead of using their accrued paid sick leave (see this link for related FAQs). On April 13, 2020, Washington Governor Inslee issued a proclamation that, in part, requires all employers to provide accommodations to high-risk employees, which includes (1) workers 65 years of age or older, and (2) workers of any age who have underlying health conditions. 

  • The choice of an alternative work assignment, including telework, alternative or remote work locations if feasible, and social distancing measures;
  • The ability to use any accrued leave or unemployment benefits if an alternative work assignment is not feasible and the employee is unable to safely work [Employers must maintain health insurance benefits while high risk employees are off the job]; and
  • Prohibition from permanently replacing the high-risk employee.

The City Council amended its Paid Sick and Safe Time (PSST) Ordinance to allow paid leave for employees when any of their family member’s school or place of care has been closed for any reason.

Prior to this amendment, an employee was only granted paid leave when their child’s place of school or care was closed AND the closing had to be due to the order of a public health official for a health-related reason. Also, employers with 250 or more full-time employees must provide paid leave to employees when their place of business has been closed for any health or safety reason. Employees accrue paid leave at one hour per every 30 hours worked. The changes became effective March 18, 2020.

Details can be found on this link