Federal Law Provides Workers Paid Leave Due To Virus

Apr 1, 2020

A guidance poster issued by the Department of Labor for employers to follow new paid leave rules. (Courtesy U.S. Department of Labor)

A federal law took effect Wednesday requiring some employers to give paid sick and family leave to workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Hoosier businesses covered by the law will have to comply or face penalties.

The Families First Coronavirus Relief Act applies to private businesses with 500 or less employees and some public agencies, too. It requires that employers give workers up to two weeks of paid sick leave if they are diagnosed with COVID-19 or have symptoms and are seeking a diagnosis. It also provides paid family leave to help workers care for children out of school or childcare services due to the virus. 

Kevin Brinegar, president and CEO of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, says many Indiana employers are aware of the changes. But some are concerned that the expanded benefits will remove needed cash flow while they wait for the federal government’s reimbursement. 

“It says I’ve got to pay these employees, who are not here working, up front and then get reimbursed at the end of the next quarter in the form of reduced payroll taxes,” he says. “We think that’s a bit of a flaw in the way this was designed, but at this point, it is what it is.” 

READ MORE: Can I Go For A Walk? Here's What A 'Stay-At-Home' Order Really Does

LEE MAS: ¿Puedo Salir A Caminar? Esto Es Lo Que Significa Una Orden De Permanecer En Casa

Employees who think they’re being improperly denied benefits can file a complaint with the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division. However, in a guidance memo the division's administrator writes it won't actually begin enforcement actions until April 17, in order to give businesses time to comply voluntarily.

Contact Justin at jhicks@wvpe.org or follow him on Twitter at @Hicks_JustinM.

This is a rapidly evolving story, and we are working hard to bring you the most up-to-date information. However, we recommend checking the websites of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Indiana State Department of Health for the most recent numbers of COVID-19 cases.