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Employees’ Sick Time and Family Leave Rights During COVID-19

As West Virginia continues to see rising numbers of new coronavirus cases, businesses and municipalities in the state need to be aware of their obligations regarding employee sick time and medical leave.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) is the applicable federal law on this issue. Enacted on April 1 as part of the initial U.S. response to COVID-19, the law requires certain employers to provide employees with paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave for reasons related to coronavirus.

Under the FFCRA, private employers with less than 500 employees and certain public employers must provide the following through December 31, 2020:

  • Paid sick leave for ill or quarantined employees — An employee is entitled to up to 80 hours of paid sick leave at full regular pay rate if he or she cannot work due to being quarantined and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Paid sick leave for employees caring for a loved one — An employee is entitled to up to 80 hours of paid sick leave at two-thirds of regular pay if he or she cannot work because of the need to care for an individual who is quarantined or to care for a child under the age of 18 who cannot go to school or day care due to COVID-19-related closures.
  • Expanded family and medical leave — Up to 10 additional weeks of paid family and medical leave at two-thirds of regular pay is owed to an employee who cannot work because he or she has a child whose school or daycare provider is closed due to COVID-19. However, the maximum amount of compensation for this extended family and medical leave is $200 per day and $10,000 in total. To qualify, the employee must have worked at the business for at least 30 days.

Federal employees are eligible for the paid sick leave provisions but are not eligible for expanded family and medical leave.

Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees may be exempt from the sick leave and expanded family and medical leave requirements relating to school and day care closures. To qualify for the exemption, the business would need to show that providing leave would jeopardize the company’s ability to continue to operate. Business owners should consult an employment law attorney if they wish to investigate this exemption.

The legal team at Pullin, Fowler, Flanagan, Brown & Poe, PLLC is available to advise clients on all aspects of FFCRA leave and any other COVID-19-related responsibilities businesses and local governments may have. With offices in Charleston, Morgantown, Beckley and Martinsburg, our attorneys are never far away. Schedule a consultation by calling 304-344-0100 or contact us online.

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