New Law Requires Paid Sick Leave During Covid-19 Crisis

The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) has imposed new paid sick leave requirements on businesses.  This article provides guidance on how to understand the new law, and how to comply with it.

The Act require employers to provide 80 hours of paid sick to each employee.  If your company already does this, then the law might not impose any new obligations on your business.  If your company does not yet provide at least 80 hours of paid sick leave then you will need to make sure that you comply with the law.

Employee Eligibility for Paid Sick Leave

Generally speaking, anyone who is treated as an employee of an ASA member under the Fair Labor Standards Act will be eligible for Paid Sick Leave.  This definition includes “any individual employed by an employer” so it is quite broad.

There are six reasons that one is permitted to claim Paid Sick Leave under the new law:

(1) The employee is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID–19.

Employee Obligation for Paid Sick Leave

The EPSLA becomes effective not later than April 2 (the wording of the Act is ambiguous so the Department of Labor could set an earlier effective date).  It continues to be effective through December 31, 2020.

The EPSLA applies to any employer who is covered under the  Fair Labor Standards Act. This is likewise defined very broadly to include the employer and persons acting in the interest of the employer.

It is now illegal to discharge, discipline, or in any other manner discriminate against any employee who takes Paid Sick Leave under this new law.  Employers who fail to pay Paid Sick leave under this new law, or who willfully discharge, discipline, or discriminate an employee for taking Paid Sick Leave will be subject to penalties as if they had failed to pay the employee a minimum wage under the Fair Labor Standards Act, which would carry penalties in addition to back wages.

Note that the law provides 80 hours of paid sick leave as of the effective date, so paid sick leave provided before the effective date probably does not count against the 80 hour obligation.  For example, if your company normally provides 80 hours of sick leave per year, and you already paid an employee for 80 hours of sick leave that the employee used in January 2020, then that employee is likely entitled to another 80 hours of paid sick leave under the new law.

Paid Sick Leave is typically calculated based on the employee’s required compensation and the number of hours the employee would otherwise be normally scheduled to work, but this amount is also capped under the law.  The maximum required dollar amount of Paid Sick Leave is limited, and the limits are based on the six categories shown above:

Many laws that protect employees require that information about the law be posted.  This law includes such a requirements.

The Secretary of Labor is required to make available a model notice that meets the notice requirements.  The deadline for this appears to be March 25.  It will probably be provided through the Wage and Hours Division website; likely on the Workplace Posters page.

What Can We Do to Support Compliance?

The ASA members with whom we’ve spoken are trying their best to support employees while also preserving a business without cash-flow for the foreseeable future. Expenses like rent or mortgage aren’t going away for most businesses. ASA members would like to pay employees through the entire public health crisis but many of them know that they just won’t have the money.

ASA members should be planning their finances with Paid Sick Leave in mind.

ASA has already asked Congress to assist the aviation supply chain with low-interest loans, payroll grants, and other incentives to keep aviation strong. We’ve also encouraged the members to tell Congress their own stories (for resources to help tell your story, see this blog post). If Congress provides this sort of support, it will help ensure that ASA members can continue to support their employees in this time of need.

About Jason Dickstein
Mr. Dickstein is the President of the Washington Aviation Group, a Washington, DC-based aviation law firm. Since 1992, he has represented aviation trade associations and businesses that include aircraft and aircraft parts manufacturers, distributors, and repair stations, as well as both commercial and private operators. Blog content published by Mr. Dickstein is not legal advice; and may not reflect all possible fact patterns. Readers should exercise care when applying information from blog articles to their own fact patterns.

2 Responses to New Law Requires Paid Sick Leave During Covid-19 Crisis

  1. Pingback: New Law Requires Paid Leave for Parents During Covid-19 Crisis | ASA Web Log

  2. Pingback: New Sick Leave and Parental Leave Guidance | ASA Web Log

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