The federal government has issued emergency coronavirus relief under a new law to provide sick leave benefits to American employees at midsize and small businesses. This relief law is for those employees who have to take time off from their job to combat the spreading of Coronavirus.
Initially, under the law signed by President Trump, it included exceptions that some are saying could exclude almost twenty million private-sector workers, including small businesses. The limitations were causing confusion as to how the new law would work.
Democrats introduced new legislation that would eliminate this confusion and have asked that paid sick leave be available to all United States workers. The new law, the first one that mandates paid sick leave nationwide, expands paid sick leave for eligible workers. Under the new law, qualified employees include:
- Anyone who has the Coronavirus
- Anyone in quarantine due to the virus
- Anyone caring for a member of their family who has been affected by the virus
- Anyone caring for a child whose school or daycare has been shut down due to the virus
- Businesses that will have to pay the sick leave benefits will receive a dollar-for-dollar tax credit.
What are the Paid Leave Benefits for the Coronavirus?
If you are a full-time worker, you are eligible for up to two weeks of paid leave. Part-time workers are qualified for a period of leave that equals the number of hours they would generally work over a two-week period.
The sick leave pay received would be capped at $511 a day for employees who are sick themselves with Coronavirus or who are seeking care. The employees who need the sick leave to care for a family member or child would have their pay capped at $200 a day.
This law is not contingent on the employee finding a replacement for their work duties, and businesses have to post the law’s requirements in a visible location where their employees work.
Which Businesses are Excluded from the Coronavirus Paid Leave Benefits?
The new law excludes businesses that have more than 500 employees as most of these businesses have their own sick leave program in place. The law also gives the Department of Labor the authority to exclude companies that employ healthcare workers as well as emergency responders.
The new law also gives the Department of Labor the authority to allow small businesses who employ less than 50 workers to opt out of the sick leave payments. The reason for smaller businesses being able to choose is it would jeopardize their viability as a business, or force it to close if it had to pay the sick leave.
The new law is also excluding ‘gig’ workers or on-demand workers such as the Lyft or Uber drivers. Due to their employers failing to categorize them as ’employees’ means these drivers are essentially being left on their own during this crisis.