Coronavirus & Your Employment

Congress and the state of California have recently enacted new laws offering additional rights and protections to workers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.  The following is a brief summary of what we believe are the most important changes to the law:

Unemployment Insurance: The usual seven-day waiting period for UI benefits is now waived.  However, you must file a claim within one week of your loss of employment or reduction in hours.  The claim then begins on the Sunday of the week you submit your application.  State-funded benefits are still capped at $455 per week (your precise benefits entitlement depends on how much you have earned over the past four calendar quarters and could be less), but under the federal stimulus bill, claimants may receive an additional $600 per week in federal money for up to four months.  Finally, although freelancers generally do not qualify for unemployment benefits, such individuals may qualify for benefits under the federal stimulus bill.  This means if you are dependent on something like UBER of Lyft for income and are no longer making money, you may qualify for assistance.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”): This brand new federal law applies to all government employers and MOST employers with less than 500 employees.  (Smaller employers may be exempted by the Dept. of Labor, or if the employer can demonstrate that compliance would cause hardship)  Under the FFCRA, employees working for covered employers are entitled to up to 10 days of paid sick leave in the event they miss work due to COVID19 infection, or in the event they must watch a sick family member or child because the child’s school or daycare is closed due to the virus.

Sick leave under these provisions is paid at 100% of the employee’s daily rate (capped at $511 per day, $5110 in the aggregate) if the employee takes time off due to COVID19 infection.  Sick leave is paid at 67% (capped at $200 per day, $10,000 in the aggregate) if the employee takes time off to care for a sick family member or child whose school/daycare has been cancelled.  There is a ten-day waiting period before this paid leave can be utilized.

The above is not an exhaustive list of changes to the law, just some of the most important changes that we wanted you to be immediately aware of.  We hope you find this information helpful and we wish you all well as you navigate through this challenging time.

Phillips & Associates