Federal emergency sick leave available for members

Posted Mar. 24, 2020 by

Congress passed a bill this week that will give 10 days of emergency sick leave to public employees who have been affected by the coronavirus. One form of leave is Emergency Paid Sick Leave for yourself and the other is Emergency Family Leave (also for school closures) which is for up to 12 weeks, but at 2/3rds pay and capped at $200 per day.

Dept. of Labor Downloads: Fact Sheet for Employees | More Questions & Answers

While OCSEA continues to be in discussions with the Ohio Office of Collective Bargaining on the impact, all members are encouraged to directly contact their Human Resources administrators with personalized questions or concerns. OCSEA expects to have more clarification from the Office of Collective Bargaining in the days to come.

Leave is available only to those individuals who are unable to work (or telework) due to a COVID-19 emergency, such as self-quarantining.  Additionally, Emergency Family Leave is only available to those employees who are taking care of sons and daughters due to a COVID-19 emergency. 

The following is a summary for members:

What’s provided?

Ten (10) paid sick days for full-time workers (usual hours worked for part-time)

  • Reimbursed at 100 percent pay, up to $511/day for members meeting the following: Quarantine; COVID-19 symptoms; seeking COVID-19 diagnosis
  • Reimbursed at 2/3 pay, up to $200/day to: Care for another individual in quarantine or because of illness; Child’s school or child care closure or unavailable child care provider; Other similar circumstances as defined by HHS and DOL
12 weeks extended school closure paid leave for parents (first two weeks can be unpaid, or dovetailed with paid sick days)
  • Reimbursed at 2/3 pay, up to $200/day
  • This remaining provision is substantially pared back from the original version of the bill passed on Saturday morning, which covered personal and family illness, too.
Covered employers
  • Public agencies (federal, state, local)
  • Private employers with FEWER than 500 employees –pay out of pocket, get credit or refund through reconciling payroll taxes owed
  • Process unclear: Sec. of Labor can exempt employers with 50 or fewer employees from school closure under both sections if viability of business as ongoing concern is compromised.
  • Employers or DOL can exempt health providers and emergency responders

Multi-employer Funds: Employers who contribute to multi-employer fund will contribute required payments to that fund, and employees can receive benefits through that fund.

Effective date: 15 days or sooner (April 2, 2020)

Sunset: December 31, 2020

Also from the AFSCME Fact Sheet regarding eligibility for Emergency Sick Leave. 

  • Emergency paid sick leave is not instead of any other paid leave to which an employee has a right and does not diminish an employee’s rights or benefits under the collective bargaining agreement or existing employer policy.
  • An employee can choose to take emergency paid sick leave before taking any other kind of paid leave, and an employer cannot require an employee to take other employer-provided paid leave before taking emergency paid sick leave.
  • Any employee who separates from employment is not entitled to payment for any unused emergency paid sick leave.
  • An employee can choose to take any accrued vacation leave, personal leave or medical or sick leave for the unpaid first two weeks of emergency family leave. Generally, an employee would be likely to take emergency paid sick leave during that period. An employer cannot require an employee to take other kinds of accrued leave instead of the emergency family leave.
  • Emergency paid sick leave—Any employee, regardless of hours of work or length of service. 
  • Emergency Family and Medical Leave—Employees who have been employed for at least 30 calendar days by their employer.

Don’t forget to check the AFSCME’s COVID-19 website and OCSEA’s COVID-19 website for any and all updates.