This blog discusses if Coronavirus is considered a disability and whether you are eligible for the Paid Family Leave or increased FMLA leave under the new Families First Coronavirus Response Act signed by President Trump this year.
The California State Disability Insurance, SDI under the EDD provides short-term disability insurance, DI and Paid Family Leave, PFL benefits (as wage replacement) to eligible workers who need time off of work. You may be eligible for Disability Insurance if you are unable to work due to Coronavirus. If you are caring for a quarantined person due to Coronavirus you may be eligible for the PFL benefits.
In response to the global pandemic, President Trump has signed a special PFL, an emergency relief bill for Corona struck patients. The Family First Coronavirus Response Act took effect from April 02, 2020 and its provisions are set to expire at the end of 2020, if otherwise revised by the government. Here's what and who this legislation covers:
Paid Leave Benefits Provisions
- -2 weeks of paid sick leave if you have, need to be diagnosed or are quarantined for coronavirus
- -2 weeks paid sick leave if you are caring for a family member impacted by the above
- -12 weeks paid sick leave if you're caring for a child while their school is closed
- -80 hours of paid sick time to full-time employees who:
- a.Have contracted the Coronavirus and are quarantined;
- b.Developed symptoms of the disease and seeks medical treatment;
- c.Is caring for a loved one who is quarantined or needs to be quarantined due to virus; or
- d.Is caring for a child who is below 18 years old and whose school is closed due to quarantine;
How much will PFL pay?
The maximum amount you can earn each day is:
- -If you are sick or seeking a diagnosis (payment cap: $511)
- -If you have contracted the virus and are a full-time employee (payment cap: $511 per day, $5110 total per employee) until you are under quarantine;
- -If you are caring for a family member (payment cap: $200)
- -If you are caring for a quarantined family member (payment cap: $200 and total payment $2000 per employee)
- -If you are caring for a child whose school is close (payment cap: $200)
Employers are eligible for reimbursement of all their costs via tax credits.
*Note that the paid leave provided by this bill covers only this year.
**Employers are also prohibited to have their employees find other alternatives or covers in place of paid family leave
Part-time or self-employed individuals
Part-time workers and individuals who are self-employed are also eligible for these benefits if they qualify. The amount they are entitled to is the average number of work hours they work every two weeks. For instance, if you work 15 hours a week, you're entitled to 30 hours of paid sick time of the year.
In addition, the law provides a form of paid leave for independent contractors and gig-economy workers. Assuming they meet the requirements above, self-employed individuals can claim a tax credit for each day they can't work equal to $200 or their average daily income, whichever is lower. To claim the tax credit, self-employed individuals can reduce their self-employment income on their next quarterly estimated tax filing.
Who qualifies for paid sick leave?
Generally, these paid sick leave benefits apply to you if:
- -You work at a small- or mid-sized company.
- -You work for the government.
- -You have been employed with your employer for at least 30 days.
- -However, small businesses with 50 or fewer employees may be exempted if paying sick leave would cause material financial harm to the business (e.g., causing the business to go bankrupt).
- -Businesses who pay paid sick leave will be reimbursed in full within three months through a payroll tax credit.
* This also includes freelancers and other self-employed individuals (who can receive a federal tax credit, rather than a cash payment).
Who doesn't qualify for paid sick leave?
Not everyone qualifies for paid sick leave benefits under this new law. Here's who is not eligible:
- -You work at a company with 500 or more employees.
- -However, your company may offer its own policies related to paid sick leave or other employment benefits.
Currently, these paid sick leave benefits are temporary and last through December 31, 2020
Other Provisions of the Law
In addition to its employment-related measures, the new law also contains many other provisions, including:
- -requiring health insurance companies to fully cover coronavirus testing and treatment
- -increased funding for nutrition programs for children, the poor, and the elderly
- -emergency funding for unemployment benefit programs
- -subsidies for employer health insurance premiums
Additional Rights Available
If the new law doesn't cover you, perhaps because you work for an employer with 500 or more employees, you might have other benefits available under state law, local law, or your employer's own policies.
If you or a loved one does not meet the eligibility for the Paid Family Leave, there may be many other options for you. You can consider contacting our counsel for more details or to learn about other benefits such as the social security disability insurance, SSDI.