Helping employers understand their responsibilities for Covid-19.

Mandatory Sick Leave

We are updated all of our COVID-19 related web pages.  Check back soon for updates. 

As part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, employers with fewer than 500 employees are required to pay 2 weeks of mandatory paid leave to Covid-19 affected employees.

This takes effect 04/02/20.  Clearer guidance on this mandatory leave is supposed to be released this week (week of 03/23 to 03/27) and we will update this page as we learn more.  Here is what we know so far.

As Much As We Know About Mandatory Leave

Who is required to pay?  Small businesses and tax exempt organizations with fewer than 500 employees are required to pay affected employees up to 2 weeks (80 hours) of mandatory leave. 

Which employees qualify?  Employees who are unable to work because of quarantine and/or who are experiencing symptoms of Covid-19 and are seeking medical diagnosis will qualify for up to 80 hours of paid leave paid at 100% of the employee's regular rate of pay.  Employees who are unable to work because they are required to care for another individual who is subject to quarantine or to care for a child whose school is closed or care provider is unavailable are eligible for up to 80 hours of paid leave at 2/3 of the employee's regular rate of pay.  In some instances, employees unable to work due to caring for a child as a result of school closure or care provider unavailability will be eligible for an additional 10 weeks of paid leave (at the 2/3 pay rate).

Available Payroll Tax Credits - Eligible employers will receive assistance for paying the mandatory leave by way of payroll tax credits.  Eligible employers may receive a Paid Sick Leave Credit equal to the affected employee's rate of pay (but not more than $511 per day and $5110 aggregate) or equal to 2/3 of the employee's regular rate of pay (but not more than $200 per day and $2000 aggregate) for caring for another.  For employees affected by school closure, the employer may receive a Child Care Leave Credit equal to 2/3 of the employee's regular rate of pay (but not more than $200 per day and $10,000 aggregate).  WA Employers - These rules apply to employees affected by quarantine.  A stay-at-home order is not the same as quarantine and we do not know if the WA stay-at-home order qualifies your employees for the mandatory leave.  Until we know more, don't pay out leave under the assumption that you will get to use the payroll tax credits.

Quick Access to Funds for Providing Paid Leave - Employers who are subject to these mandatory paid leave measures will have immediate access to the funds provided by these credits in the way of payroll tax funds.  If the employer would normally deposit payroll taxes to the IRS, they can deduct from their deposit the amount of funds needed to pay the mandatory leave.  If sufficient funds are not available, employers can file a request for accelerated funds.  We do not yet know how to apply.

What proof is required from the employee?  We do not yet know the answer to this.

What about self-employed persons who are affected?  Self-employed persons who are affected will be eligible for a similar credit, but guidance has not yet been released to tell us how.

What if I can't afford this?  There is an exemption from the 10 week Child Care Leave requirement, but only for businesses and tax exempt organizations with 50 or fewer employees.  There is no exemption that we know of for the 2 weeks mandatory Paid Sick Leave.

WA State Employers: Is the Federal Paid Leave paid on top of or in conjunction with WA required Sick Leave?  We don't yet know the answer to this.  I am doing everything I can to find out.  Here is Labor & Industries Coronavirus Page for other WA Sick Leave information.

WA State Employers: Is there relief if my employees file for unemployment?  At this time there is only relief from benefit charges if you have a Covid-19 contamination on-site and it is approved on a case-by-case basis.  Here is the Employment Security Department's Coronavirus Page for other Unemployment information.

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