COVID-19 FAQ’s For Workers

by George Barron

This information is based upon what we know as of today,  April 6, 2020. As the pandemic and its consequences continue to unfold, this will change. 

If you have questions, please call my office and do not rely upon this general information. 570-824-3088.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act  (“FFCRA”) contains two laws that provide benefits to workers: the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (“EPSLA”) and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (“EFMLA”) . 

1. Does the FFCRA apply to me?

The FFCRA applies if your employer has fewer than 500 employees, or if you work for a public agency.  Health Care Providers and Emergency Responders may be excluded. This includes police and fire workers, and hospital/nursing home workers. 

2. What happens to my job if I can’t work because of COVID-19?

First, the EPSLA kicks in. Employees are eligible for up to 2 weeks of emergency paid sick leave if they: 

  • are subject to a governmental quarantine or isolation order,
  • have been advised by a health-care provider to self-quarantine,
  • are caring for an individual who is subject to governmental or self-quarantine,
  • are caring for the employee’s child because the child’s school or child-care provider is closed, or
  • are experiencing a substantially similar circumstance related to COVID-19 as specified by the Department of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Department of Labor

3. How much will I get paid?

For the first 2 weeks, EPSLA requires your employer to pay you your full regular pay. 

4. Will i lose my health insurance if I take emergency paid sick leave?

No. Any health insurance you have through work will continue during the 2 week leave. 

5. What happens after the first 2 weeks?

If you are out of work because you are caring for your child (because your child’s school or child-care provider is closed) then EFMLA kicks in. EFMLA kicks in ONLY for this reason. 

Under EFMLA, workers will continue to get paid, but at 2/3 of their regular pay. This can last up to 10 weeks (in addition to the 2 weeks of EPSLA). Workers keep their health insurance during this time. 

6. What if I am sick, caring for someone other than my child, or under quarantine for more that 2 weeks? 

Then you are NOT eligible for EFMLA. You may be eligible for regular FMLA leave if you qualify, but it will be unpaid. You may be eligible for short-term disability benefits, or for unemployment compensation benefits. 

7. Will the payments I get under EPSLA or EFMLA count against my vacation or PTO time?

No. You may be permitted to use vacation/PTO time to “bridge the gap” between the EPSLA/EFMLA payment and your regular wages, if your employer agrees. But your employer can’t force you to do so.  

8. Can my employer punish me for using or requesting leave under the FFCRA?

No. the FFCRA contains anti-retaliation provisions that protect your rights. As always, if your employer refuses to comply with the law, documents everything and call my office. 

If you have questions, please call my office at 570-824-3088. Telephone consultations are always free of charge. 

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