Paying Employees on Leave—Two Scenarios:
Specific provisions apply to when and how much employers must pay their employees on sick leave because of COVID-19.
Employers must pay their employees based on the employee’s regular rate of pay, depending on the reason for leave. That leave shall be paid at 100% of the employee’s regular rate, but it is capped at $511 per day and $5,110 in total for an employee who is:
- Under a government-issued quarantine order or the employer is quarantined based upon the advice of health care provider, or
- The employee is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis related to COVID-19.
Employers must pay their employers utilizing this paid leave two-thirds of the employee’s regular rate of pay, but it is capped at $200 per day and $2,000 in total for leave needed:
- To care for another individual under quarantine or a child under 18 whose school or childcare provider is closed or unavailable because of COVID-19; or
- If the employee is experiencing a substantially similar condition.
Notice, Remedies, and Other Provisions
Effective March 25, 2020, employers will have access to notices related to the new laws that must be posted.
Fundamentally, the law protects employees from retaliation who use emergency paid sick leave or complain about violations of the Emergency PSL Act.
If an employer fails to comply with the Emergency PSL Act, then it constitutes a failure to pay minimum wages in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. But, the Department of Labor (the Governmental Department that enforces the FLSA) has indicated that it will not enforce these provisions for 30 days if the employer acted reasonably and in good faith. Presumably, the burden to prove that the employer acted in good faith will rest with the employer. It’s unclear how high that burden will be.