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Requesting special leave or accommodations

As noted in Dr. Weaver’s message this morning, employees who fall into a high risk category should communicate with Human Resources to arrange for accommodations to continue current telework or alternate on-site schedules and assignments. Once an employee reaches out to HR we will provide them with the required documentation and next steps, which will include a designation from the employee on the serious health condition, a description of the accommodations being requested, and a physician’s certification. Supervisors will also be consulted regarding requested accommodations.

As an additional reminder, employees who are unable to work in any capacity due to COVID-19 should notify their supervisor and Human Resources so that applicable leave benefits can be explored. Further documentation, including a physician’s certification, may be required in some situations. Human Resources can advise further.

In addition to an employee’s regular annual and sick leave, employees who are unable to report to work due to COVID-19 may qualify for emergency paid sick leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act

On March 18, 2020, Congress enacted and the president signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. It contains numerous provisions, two of which create new requirements for some employers to provide paid leave to employees as they deal with various circumstances related to the coronavirus COVID-19 public health emergency. These new requirements take effect April 1, 2020 and expire on December 31, 2020.

A. Emergency Paid Sick Leave

One provision of the new law entitles any employee (as defined by the Fair Labor Standards Act) regardless of their length of service, to emergency paid sick leave if the employee is, in connection with COVID-19:

(1) subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order;

(2) advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine;

(3) experiencing symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis;

(4) caring for an individual who is subject to (1) or (2);

(5) caring for a son or daughter whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable; or

(6) experiencing any similar condition specified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Full-time employees who meet at least one of these criteria may take up to 80 hours of paid leave. Affected part-time employees may take paid leave for up to their average number of hours worked over a two-week period.

The pay for those employees who must be quarantined or isolated and/or are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms (criteria 1, 2, and 3) is capped at $511 per day and an aggregate total of $5,110. The pay for those who are caring for someone else (criteria 4 and 5) is to be at least two-thirds (2/3) of their regular pay rate but capped at $200 per day and an aggregate total of $2,000.

Covered employees are entitled to use this emergency paid sick leave before using any other accrued leave.

B. Expanded FMLA Leave

The other pertinent provision in the new law amends the Family and Medical Leave Act such that covered leave is now available to employees with at least thirty days of service who are caring for a son or daughter under 18 years of age whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable due to COVID-19.

Affected employees are entitled to take this leave as part of their 12-week allotment under the FMLA. It does not add an additional 12 weeks onto the already existing 12 weeks of FMLA leave.

The first two weeks of leave under this provision are unpaid – as is customary under the FMLA. The employee may use these two weeks of unpaid leave, however, at the same time as the two weeks of emergency paid sick leave described above.

The remaining 10 weeks must be paid – unlike other leave under the FMLA. That pay is to be at least two-thirds (2/3) of their regular pay rate but capped at $200 per day and an aggregate total of $10,000.

Please communicate with Human Resources if you are in need of being out of work related to COVID-19 so that they can determine the appropriate leave type for your situation.