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On March 18, 2020, Congress signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act into law. This is different than the CARES act you’ve heard so much about, which is a historic stimulus package that is anticipated to send relief checks to millions of Americans within the next few weeks. The Families First Act was designed to allow employees to take leave from their jobs if they or someone in their household was affected by the Coronavirus. This new law may apply to you, even if you have not previously had sick leave at your job.

Because this law was so recently enacted, some details are still being worked out and not all employers are aware of this new law. If you think you may be affected, you may want to consult an attorney to be sure you’re receiving your maximum benefits. Keep reading to find out if the Families First Act may affect you during the Coronavirus.

Your employer is affected by this new law if the business has fewer than 500 employees.

There are some exceptions if your employer is very small, for example under 50 employees, however, these exceptions are considered on a case-by-case basis.

If your daycare or childcare is closed and there is no one to care for your child (i.e., other parent is a first responder, you are a single parent), you may be entitled to two paid weeks of sick leave.

You should be prepared to present documentation to support your claim. If your employer refuses to honor this new law or accept your documentation, contact an attorney immediately to find out how we can help.

If you have been told by a doctor that you must self-quarantine, you may be entitled to two paid weeks of sick leave.

You should be prepared to present documentation to support your claim. (i.e., a doctor’s note.) Some reasons a doctor may tell you to self-quarantine could be that you have recently traveled outside of the country, come in contact with someone who has a confirmed or presumed case of Coronavirus, or that you are immunocompromised yourself.

If someone in your household or immediate family has been told by a doctor that you must self-quarantine, you may be entitled to two paid weeks of sick leave at a reduced rate.

Again, you should be prepared to present documentation to support your claim. (i.e., a doctor’s note.) The definition of who is considered a close family member is not clear, however, requesting sick leave to care for a family friend is not acceptable.

If you are experiencing symptoms of the Coronavirus, even if you have not taken a test, AND you have sought medical care for those symptoms, you may be entitled to two paid weeks of sick leave.

Again, you should be prepared to present documentation to support your claim. (i.e., a doctor’s note.)

Your employer cannot require that you exhaust your already accrued sick leave and personal time before allowing you to take this newly enacted Families First Act leave.

This means that you can take this leave whenever it applies and you will keep your leave that you’ve earned with your employer. However, if you already have sick or personal leave, they are not required to allow you to use it for Coronavirus related matters.

You also may be able to take FMLA (unpaid leave) after your paid sick leave and still keep your job.

The Families First Act expands the availability of FMLA to include Coronavirus affected individuals. Contact an attorney today to find out if you are eligible for this benefit.

There are limits to how much pay your employer must pay you during this sick leave and many more provisions not covered here. Our attorneys are working diligently to stay current with these new laws and are ready to assist if you are unable to receive the benefits you deserve. Browne House Law Group serves all of West Alabama, including Tuscaloosa, Jefferson, Hale, Bibb, Greene, Pickens and beyond. Give us a call at (205) 293-5293 ext. 1000 to find out how we can help.