Mayor Keller Announces Enforcement Effort to Protect Workers’ Right to Paid Sick Leave and Family Leave during COVID-19 Crisis

Under federal law workers may be eligible for up to 2 weeks of sick leave, 12 weeks of family leave so workers with coronavirus can stay home

Aug. 11, 2020

Today, Mayor Tim Keller announced the City is stepping up to help protect workers’ right to paid sick leave and family leave during the COVID-19 crisis. In March, Congress passed a new law that expanded eligibility for paid sick leave and family leave for workers in certain businesses. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) may enable workers at businesses with fewer than 500 employees to access two weeks of paid sick leave and 12 weeks of family leave for COVID-19 reasons.

“Along with our other enforcement efforts, we’re stepping up to make sure employers honor workers’ rights to paid sick leave and family leave during this pandemic,” said Mayor Tim Keller. “It’s about protecting the workers, the business and public health at large. Anyone who tests positive for COVID needs to be able to stay home and not expose others without having to worry about their job and paycheck.”

As part of the City’s efforts to educate businesses about the requirements of the current public health order, employers are also provided information on their responsibility to provide personal protective equipment, such as face coverings, and on the federal requirement to provide paid sick leave and family leave. In the past seven days, City employees have conducted 113 educational interactions with businesses and individuals.

Workers may have the right to two weeks of paid sick leave if they are unable to work or telework for the following reasons:

  • Are subject to a federal, state, or local government quarantine or isolation order (such as an order advising people to stay at home or restrict non-essential travel);
  • Have been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine;
  • Are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and are seeking a medical diagnosis;
  • Are caring for someone in quarantine or isolation because of a government order or doctor’s advice; or
  • Are caring for their child because school is closed or a child care provider is unavailable due to COVID-19 related reasons.

If a worker takes leave for the first three reasons, they must be paid at their regular rate and for their regular number of hours (up to 80 hours), up to the maximum pay of $511 per day and $5,110 total. If leave is taken for the last two reasons, workers must be paid at 2/3 of their regular rate, up to the maximum pay of $200 per day and $2,000 total.

Workers also may be entitled to 12 weeks of family leave if they are unable to work or telework because they need to care for a child because the child’s school is closed or a regular care provider is unavailable due to COVID-19 reasons. Workers are eligible for family leave once they have worked for their employer for at least 30 days. The first two weeks of family leave will be unpaid leave, unless using paid sick leave or other paid leave that an employer offers, such as vacation days. The next 10 weeks of family leave must be at least 2/3 of a worker’s regular pay up to a maximum of $200 per day and $10,000 total.

Covered employers (all employers with fewer than 500 employees) qualify for a dollar-for-dollar reimbursement through tax credits for all wages paid under this law. Applicable tax credits also extend to amounts paid or incurred to maintain health insurance coverage. Covered employers must post in a conspicuous place on their premises a notice of these rights and requirements. If employees are working remotely, then employers can distribute the notice to employees by email, mail, or electronically.

More information on the federal requirements and additional resources for workers can be found in the attached document created by the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty.

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Emergencies challenge the delivery and management of emergency public information, warning and emergency protective action notifications. The Albuquerque Joint Information Center (JIC) functions as a coordinated Albuquerque Metro Area public information system that will gather and analyze data related to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in New Mexico and serve as a source of accurate and comprehensive information.