State and Federal Employment Benefits Available to Employees Affected by COVID-19
State Resources in Response to COVID-19
Disability Insurance may be available for employees who are unable to work due to medical quarantine or illness related to COVID-19. Employees could receive 60-70 percent of their wages for up to 52 weeks. For more information, please visit: https://www.edd.ca.gov/disability/am_i_eligible_for_di_benefits.htm.
Paid Family Leave may be available for employees who are caring for an ill or quarantined family member. Employees could receive 60-70 percent of their wages for up to 6 weeks. For more information, please visit: https://www.edd.ca.gov/disability/Am_I_Eligible_for_PFL_Benefits.htm.
Unemployment Insurance may be available for those who have lost their job or have had their hours reduced. Employees may receive up to $450 per week for up to 26 weeks. For more information, please visit: https://www.edd.ca.gov/unemployment/eligibility.htm.
Paid Sick Leave may be available if an employee or their family members is sick or quarantined. This leave may be paid out at the employee’s regular rate of pay. For more information, please visit: https://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/paid_sick_leave.htm. Additional COVID-19 Related FAQ’s on Paid Sick Leave can be found here: https://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/2019-Novel-Coronavirus.htm.
Workers’ Compensation may be available for employees who are unable to work because they were exposed to or contracted COVID-19 while at work. Employees may receive two-thirds of their wages and medical treatment while they recover. For more information, please visit: https://www.dir.ca.gov/InjuredWorkerGuidebook/InjuredWorkerGuidebook.html.
Unpaid Leave under the California Family Rights Act may be available for employees who are unable to work because they have a serious health condition related to COVID-19 or they are caring for a family member who has a serious health condition related to COVID-19. Employees may receive up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave which provides the employee with job protection (i.e., the right to return to work) after the leave is over. For more information regarding this type of leave, please visit: https://www.dfeh.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/32/2020/03/DFEH-Employment-Information-on-COVID-19-FAQ_ENG.pdf.
Additional guidance and resources can be found on the Labor Workforce Development Agency’s COVID-19 dedicated webpage at: https://www.labor.ca.gov/coronavirus2019/.
Workers who are not being provided necessary personal protective equipment or sufficient workplace arrangements to maintain social distancing may submit a complaint with Cal/OSHA. https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/Complaint.htm.
Workers performing non-essential work who believe they are being improperly mandated to report to work may contact their county public health office. A list of county public health phone numbers can be found here: https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Pages/COVID-19-County-Offices.aspx
Federal Legislation in Response to COVID-19
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
The FFCRA is effective from April 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020. It provides two major benefits for workers—emergency paid sick leave and public health emergency leave. The benefits attach to private sector employers with less than 500 employees and to public agencies. In addition, a private sector employer with less than 50 employees may seek a waiver from the Department of Labor if they can demonstrate that providing the leave would jeopardize the viability of their business.
The emergency paid sick leave is for two weeks and is pro-rated if the employee is part-time. It covers circumstances such as an employee:
- being symptomatic of COVID-19,
- quarantined due to the advice of a doctor or by governmental order,
- caring for a child due to a school or child care closure, and
- providing care to an individual who is in quarantine.
Emergency paid sick leave taken by the employee for their own condition or quarantine is capped at $511 a day and up to $5,110 total. For other qualifying events, it is capped at $200 a day and $2,000 total.
The public health emergency leave extends the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to cover up to 12 weeks of leave for school closures. This leave is unpaid for the first two weeks (although the emergency paid sick leave or other leave accrued can be utilized) and then increases to two-thirds of an employee’s pay with a cap of $200 a day and $10,000 total. An employee is eligible for the both types of leave if they have worked for their employer at least 30 days.
For more general information, go to: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-questions.
For workers additional information can be found at: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-employee-paid-leave.
For employers additional information can be found at: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-employer-paid-leave.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”)
The CARES Act consists of a $2 trillion dollar stimulus package. It includes provisions to:
- increase unemployment insurance payments by $600 per week,
- extend unemployment insurance benefits by 13 weeks for a total cap of 39 weeks,
- make these benefits available to those who are unemployed but do not qualify for traditional benefits such as independent contractors, gig workers, and the self-employed,
- direct payments of $1,200 to individuals making less than $75,000 ($150,000 for joint returns) and $500 for each child, and
- suspend federal student loan payments and involuntary collection efforts until September 30, 2020.
In addition, the Act allocates $349 billion dollars as economic relief for small businesses. It creates the Paycheck Protection Program which offers loans of up to $10 million to small businesses employing 500 or fewer employees for payroll and health care costs, employee wages, interest on mortgage payments, rent, utilities, and other debt obligations. The amount of the loan used for payroll costs, interest on mortgage payments, and rent or utilities may be forgiven. The amount of loan forgiveness may be reduced if the employer downsizes its workforce or lowers wages.
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