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Families First Coronavirus Response Act

On March 18, 2020, the US government passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. This bill provides paid sick leave and family leave to those affected by COVID-19. The provisions of this bill will go into effect on April 2, 2020. Please note that employers with over 500 employees are not included. Specifics of the bill are below.

  • Types of Leave in the Bill:
    • Sick Leave: Companies are required to provide two weeks of paid sick leave. Sick leave is to be paid at the usual pay rate but is capped at $511 per day. This applies to all full-time employees regardless of the length of employment with the employer.
      • This sick leave is in addition to any statutorily required leave or employer provided leave.
      • This leave does not need to be paid out at the end of the year if it is not used.
      • Can be used if employee:
        • Has to self-isolate because employee is diagnosed with coronavirus
        • Obtains a medical diagnosis or care if such employee is experiencing the symptoms of the coronavirus
        • Complies with a recommendation or order by a public official or health care provider to quarantine due to exposure or symptoms of coronavirus
        • Cares or assists a family member who is self-isolating because of a coronavirus diagnoses or who is experiencing symptoms of coronavirus and needs to obtain medical diagnoses or care
      • Family Leave: Companies are required to provide up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave for employees affected by the coronavirus who has worked at the company for at least 30 days. Family leave is to be paid at 2/3rds of the usual pay rate but is capped at $200 per day. The first 10 days are unpaid but an employee can elect to use other types of leave to pay for the first 10 days.
    • Exemptions:
      • The Department of Labor has exempted businesses with fewer than 50 employees from having to provide paid leave to employees who need the leave due to their child’s school or childcare closing.
    • Relief for Costs:
      • A tax credit for small businesses is included in the bill. The credit is applied to the tax the company or nonprofit normally pays for each employee’s Social Security (6.2% of each employee’s salary).
      • If the leave cost is greater than the Social Security taxes, the U.S. government will send the employer a check to cover the remaining costs.
    • Part-time employees:
      • Part-time employees get paid sick leave equivalent to the number of hours they typically during a two-week period.

Sick leave provisions provided in the emergency bill passed on March 18th are in addition to sick leave laws that are already in place. Sick Leave for Employers is dictated by both federal and local laws.

 

Federal Law

The FMLA allows eligible employees of covered employers to take 12 weeks unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave. FMLA only applies to employers who have fifty employers or more for at least 20 weeks in the current or previous year. Employees who use their FMLA leave must be reinstated at the same or equivalent position when they return from leave.

 

Cook County

Employers in Cook County must provide their employees, who have worked for them at least 2 hours in any 2-week period, paid sick leave. Employees accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked. Please note that some cities in Cook County have opted out of this ordinance so this may not apply to all employers in Cook County.

  • Covered Employees are employees who performs compensated work for a Covered Employer in Cook County for at least 2 hours in any 2-week period while physically present within the geographic boundaries of Cook County.
  • Covered Employer is an employer with a place of business in Cook County
  • Covered Employees are permitted to use earned sick leave for:
    • if the employee has a family member who is ill
    • if the employee or a family member is a victim of domestic violence or stalking
    • if a public emergency closes work, school, or daycare
  • Covered Employees are entitled to carry over a maximum of 20 hours of unused earned sick leave in any given year to the following year.

 

City of Chicago

Employers within the geographic boundaries of Chicago must grant employees at least one hour of paid sick leave for every forty hours worked.

  • Covered Employee is any employee who works at least 80 hours for any employer in Chicago within any 120-day period is eligible.
  • Covered Employee shall begin accruing paid sick leave on the first calendar day after the first date of employment.
  • A Covered Employee who receives a salary and is exempt from overtime shall accrue one hour of paid sick leave for each week of employment unless the salaried position is for an amount different from 40 hours worked per week, in which case the rate of accrual shall be 1 hour for every 40 hours of salaried week.
  • Instead of following the accrual model, Employer can choose to immediately grant their Covered Employees their paid sick leave at the beginning of employment or benefit year.
  • A Covered Employee may use a maximum of 40 hours of accrued regular paid sick leave during a benefit year.
  • A Covered Employee’s termination, resignation, retirement, or other separation from employment, his or her Employer is NOT required to provide financial or other reimbursement for unused paid sick leave.
  • Covered Employee can use the paid sick leave when:
    1. He or she is ill or injured, or for the purpose of receiving medical care, treatment, diagnosis, or preventative medical care;
    2. A member of his or her family is ill is injured, or to care for a family member receiving medical care, treatment, diagnosis, or preventive medical care;
    3. He or she, or a member of his or her family, is the victim of domestic violence;
    4. His or her place of business is closed by order of a public official due to a public health emergency, or he or she needs to care for a child whose school or place of care has been closed by order of a public official due to a public health emergency.

 

NOTE: Although the Department of Labor has exempted businesses with fewer than 50 employees from having to provide paid leave if the employee needs to care for a child whose school or place of care has been closed, all businesses within the geographical limits of Chicago and Cook County must provide accrued paid leave to employees if the employee needs to care for a child whose school or place of care has been closed due to a public emergency. Governor Pritzker has ordered schools and most daycares to close. Please note that some cities have opted out of the Cook County ordinance. It is important to check if your city in Cook County has opted out of the paid sick leave ordinance.