Dear Member of Bargaining Unit 2:
On March 18, 2020, the federal government enacted the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) in response to COVID-19, which enacted both the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act.
Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act
The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) is effective April 1, 2020. Under the EPSLA, employees are entitled to two-weeks of emergency paid sick leave for sick leave related to COVID-19. Specifically, employees can use the paid sick leave if they are:
- Subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
- Advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19;
- Experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and are seeking a medical diagnosis;
- Caring for an individual subject to an order described in (1) or self-quarantine as described in (2);
- Caring for his or her child whose school or place of care is closed (or childcare provider is unavailable) due to COVID-19 related reasons; or
- Experiencing any other substantially-similar condition specified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The EPSLA leave can be used in lieu of regular sick or annual leave and should be recorded on time sheets as Administrative Time Off (ATO). Any ATO used by employees prior to April 1, 2020 will not count toward the employee’s two week EPSLA leave. Requests for this leave, if you meet the criteria, are not subject to approval or rejection by the state or individual departments. Employers may not discharge, discipline, or otherwise discriminate against any employee based upon the employee’s use of EPSLA leave.
Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act
The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (E-FMLA) is also effective April 1, 2020.
E-FMLA requires certain employers to provide employees who have worked for the employer for 30 days with up to 12 workweeks of paid E-FMLA leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. Specifically, eligible employees can take up to 12 workweeks of leave to provide care for their child whose school or daycare is closed because of COVID-19. Employees do not have to have worked for the employer for 12 months or have worked 1,250 hours in the 12 months preceding the leave to be eligible for E-FMLA.
The first two weeks of E-FMLA are unpaid, although employees can elect to use their two weeks of paid sick leave under the EPSLA discussed above. For weeks 3 to 12 of E-FMLA, employees will be paid two-thirds of their salary, up to $200 per day up to a total of $10,000. Employees can elect to use leave credits to supplement their E-FMLA up to their full salary. The maximum daily entitlement and overall total are the same regardless of the employee’s time base.
E-FMLA utilizes the same 12-week entitlement as FMLA. If an employee has used any of their 12-week entitlement under FMLA, the entitlement under E-FMLA will be reduced by the amount already used. Presumably, use of E-FMLA will also reduce future use of this year’s 12 week entitlement under FMLA.
If leave under this program is foreseeable, an employee shall provide their employer with such notice of leave as is practicable. Documentation of the school or childcare closure must be provided (notices of closures on websites or emails are sufficient). Employers may not discharge, discipline, or otherwise discriminate against any employee based upon the employee’s use of E-FMLA leave.
There is not yet a form for filing for these leave benefits. However, if you qualify and wish to utilize this leave, you should notify your department in writing of the type of leave you are using and the dates of the leave. You should also indicate the type of leave and dates in your time sheet comment section. You will be able to take either of these leave types dating back to April 1, 2020 but E-FMLA requires that you give notice to your employer if possible so please send an email to your department as soon as possible if you wish to use either of these leave types.
New details will likely be released over the next few weeks so please continue to check with your department or with the CalHR website for the program details here. EPSLA sick leave, E-FMLA pay, and any leave used to supplement E-FMLA are taxable. It is CASE’s position that employees should receive full state service credits and time-in-grade for promotional purposes while on either of these leave types. However, CalHR has not yet taken a definitive position on this issue.
If you are a Voting Member of CASE and your request for EPSLA or E-FMLA is denied, unreasonably delayed, or you are otherwise being prevented from exercising your rights for leave by your department, please contact us immediately at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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CASE also encourages you to send responses from your personal email address as opposed to your state email address. Please keep in mind that all responses will be treated as confidential by CASE.
As always, your support of CASE and your colleagues in Bargaining Unit 2 is greatly appreciated.
The CASE Board of Directors