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Small Businesses Get Help with Paid Sick Leave

Small businesses can take advantage of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to offer paid sick leave to employees.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has many hardware and home improvement retailers concerned about staffing issues. Willis Qualheim of Qualheim True Value in Shawano, Wis., said if one of his employees is feeling sick, he wants them to stay home and quarantine for 14 days.

“If they have come in contact with someone who has COVID-19 or believe they have it, they need to self-quarantine and will be provided with their standard average pay during the investigation stage,” he said.

Qualheim adds, “If they need to remain on leave for an extended period of time due to being COVID-19 positive, we will work with them on extended pay or unemployment benefits. These policies may change as decisions from our government are rapidly changing and we are waiting to see what type of government support there will be.”

American workers can now qualify for 12 weeks of family leave and an additional two weeks of paid sick leave during the coronavirus pandemic, thanks to a new federal law signed by President Trump on March 18.

The “Families First Coronavirus Response Act” takes effect April 2 and runs through December 31, 2020. It establishes a federal emergency paid leave benefits program to provide payments to employees taking unpaid leave due to the coronavirus outbreak. It requires employers with fewer than 500 workers to offer new and expanded benefits.

The bill includes the following provisions:

  • Paid Sick Leave: Employers with over 50 employees and under 500 employees are required to grant two weeks (80 hours) of paid sick leave for workers dealing with the coronavirus.
  • Requires employers to grant two weeks (80 hours) paid sick leave immediately
  • Covers COVID-19 related issues, such as workers experiencing symptoms, seeking medical diagnosis, quarantine, caring for quarantined family members, or caring for children due to school or daycare closures due to coronavirus.
  • Exempts large employers with over 500 workers
  • Exempts small employers with under 50 workers
  • Includes part-time workers, who receive pay based on average weekly hours worked.
  • Paid Medical Leave for Childcare: The bill expands the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) by providing 10 weeks of paid leave at two-thirds pay to workers caring for a child. Like the paid sick leave, this only applies to employers with over 50 and under 500 employees.
  • Following the first two weeks (10 days) of unpaid leave, employers must provide paid leave at two-thirds an employee’s regular pay, up to 10 weeks.
  • Exempts large employers with over 500 workers
  • Exempts small employers with under 50 workers
  • Part-time employees eligible, based on average weekly hours
  • Only applies to workers unable to work because they must care for a child under 18 years of age due to COVID-19 related school or childcare closures.

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