COVID-Related Leave Rights – We’re here to help.

In March 2020, the federal government enacted two programs requiring some employers to provide paid leave to employees who can not work due to a COVID-19 diagnosis, a government order to quarantine, a doctor’s order to quarantine or isolate, or because they need to provide care to a child whose school or daycare had closed due to COVID-related precautions. Many Iowa employees are entitled to paid leave under these laws. Some Iowa employees are entitled to 12 weeks of partially-paid leave to care for children whose schools or daycares are closed due to COVID-19. Our firm is ready to help employees who have been denied leave or who have been retaliated against for requesting leave.

Reach out to us if you believe your employer has retaliated against you for requesting leave or using leave related to COVID-19.

Reach out to us if you believe your employer has wrongly denied you leave under either of these programs.

Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act

The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act is a new federal law that applies to public employers and any private employer with 500 or fewer employees. All employees are potentially eligible for this leave, as long as the employee falls into one of these categories:

  1. Subject to a quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19.
  2. Advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.
  3. Experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.
  4. Caring for an individual who falls under (1) or (2).
  5. Caring for a child if the school or place of care of the child has been close, or the child care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 precautions.
  6. Experiencing any other “substantially similar condition” as specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Employees are entitled to up to 80 hours of paid leave depending on their work schedule. For reasons 1-3, the employee is entitled to their regular rate of pay, up to $511 per day. For reasons 4-6, the employee is entitled to 2/3 of their regular rate of pay, up to $200 per day.

Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act

The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act requires employers with 500 or fewer employees to provide partially-paid leave to employees who have been employed by the employer for at least 30 days.

Covered employers are required to provide partially-paid leave, at 2/3 the employee’s regular rate of pay, if an employee is unable to work or telework due to a need for leave to care for their child because the child’s school or place of care has been closed due to a public health emergency.

In most cases, employees who cannot work or telework because they need to care for a child whose school or daycare is closed due to COVID-19 are entitled to two weeks of partially-paid leave under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (up to $2,000) and an additional ten weeks of partially-paid leave under the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (up to $10,000). The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act leave is included in the employee’s FMLA allotment for the year, so less time may be available to employees who have used FMLA leave for another reason.

Employee Protections

Employees are protected against retaliation for requesting or using leave under both of these programs. Employees must usually be restored to their position following their leave, with some exceptions.

Reach out to us if you have been denied paid leave, if you were fired for requesting time off for a qualifying reason, or if you think you have been retaliated against for using paid leave, objecting to an unsafe work environment, or for requesting time off due to a health condition that made you vulnerable to COVID-19.

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