Employment Law

Paying Staff Who Are on Leave Due to COVID-19

NEW AUGUST 20: If a staff member tests positive for COVID-19 or must self-quarantine or otherwise need leave for a COVID-19-related reason, do I need to pay staff members while they are out?

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Wages and Hourly Pay in CT

  • In the State of Connecticut, employees who are not working due to furloughs or other closures related to coronavirus will be eligible for unemployment so long as they are able to work (i.e. not themselves sick). The Connecticut Department of Labor released an excellent resource “Frequently Asked Questions About Coronavirus (COVID-19) for Workers and Employers” with information about unemployment insurance, wages and hours law and the FMLA.  
  • If an employer decides to keep the business open, but the employee elects not to report for work, the employer is not required to pay a nonexempt employee for the time in which he or she performs no work. For the exempt employee, the employer may make a deduction in pay in full-day increments pursuant to Conn. State Agencies Regs. § 31-60-14(b)(1)(B) because the employee is asking for the day off for personal reasons.
CT Department of Labor FAQ

US Department of Labor

Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), included provisions regarding emergency paid sick leave and the expansion of Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Under the paid sick leave provisions, employers could be required to pay two weeks of sick leave to employees under certain circumstances, including:

  1. The employee is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order;
  2. The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine;
  3. The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis;
  4. The employee is caring for an individual to which points 1 or 2 apply;
  5. The employee is caring for a child if the child’s school or place of care has been closed; or,
  6. The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretaries of Labor and the Treasury.

Under the FMLA provisions, employers could be required to pay for up to 10 weeks of leave, but only for those employees who must care for their children because their school or childcare center is closed.

However, H.R. 6201 gave the Secretary of Labor the authority to exempt businesses with fewer than 50 employees from the requirement that they provide paid sick leave and extended family medical leave when the child’s school or place of care has been closed if “such requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern.”

On April 1, the DOL issued a rule implementing H.R. 6201. This rule says that a small business with fewer than 50 employees may claim the exemptions if:

  1. The leave would cause the small employer’s expenses and financial obligations to exceed available business revenue and cause the small employer to cease operating at a minimal capacity;
  2. The absence of the employee or employees would pose a substantial risk to the financial health or operational capacity of the small employer because of their specialized skills, knowledge of the business, or responsibilities; or,
  3. The small employer cannot find enough other workers who are able, willing, and qualified, and who will be available at the time and place needed, to perform the labor or services the employer or employees requesting leave provide, and these labor or services are needed for the employer to operate at a minimal capacity.  

An authorized officer of the business has to determine that the business meets one or more of these criteria, and the business must document that it meets those criteria. That documentation should be kept on file by the business for four years but it does not need to be sent to the DOL.

The ADA has checked with the DOL and they have confirmed that dental office owners are not required to pay paid sick leave or extended family leave—if the employee has a child whose school or daycare is closed due to COVID-19—as long as they meet at least one of the three criteria above.

Click here for additional information from the DOL for employers and employees on COVID-19.

Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor

This poster is required to be posted. Employers must post a notice describing the paid leave requirements in a conspicuous place on their premises. For telecommuting employees, an employer may satisfy this requirement by emailing or direct mailing this notice to employees, or posting this notice on an employee information website.

Download the Poster


Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Questions and Answers

Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Employee Paid Leave Rights

Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Employer Paid Leave Requirements

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