North Carolina state law does not require either paid sick or family leave. The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) covers many employees in North Carolina. However, FMLA leave is typically unpaid.
On March 18, 2020, Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which contains some emergency leave provisions. The Act covers public agencies and private sector employers with fewer than 500 employees nationwide. As a result of this threshold, most employees are not covered by the FFCRA’s leave provisions.
Under FFCRA, full-time employees who are quarantined, have COVID-19 symptoms, or are seeking COVID-19 diagnosis, may receive ten paid sick days at 100% pay for up to $511 a day. Part time employees are eligible for this leave based on the average number of hours worked over a two-week period.
Employees who are unable to work because they are caring for another individual in quarantine, or for a child whose school or childcare provider is closed for COVID-related reasons, and/or a substantially similar condition is eligible for ten paid sick days at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay for up to $200 per day. Part-time employees are eligible for leave for the number of hours that they are normally scheduled to work over that period.
The FFCRA also provides for up to an additional ten weeks of family and medical leave at two-thirds an employee’s regular rate of pay where an employee is unable to work because of the need to care for a child whose school or childcare provider is closed for COVID-19 related reasons. To be eligible for this expanded leave, employees must have been employed for at least 30 days.
There are some notable exceptions to the FFCRA. First, the Secretary of Labor can exempt employers with fifty or fewer employees from school closure leave if the viability of business can be compromised. Second, employers or the US DOL can exempt healthcare providers and emergency responders from leave provisions. Third, on April 1, 2020, the DOL issued new guidance exempting employers with fewer than 50 employees from providing the expanded family and medical leave under the FFCRA.
Employers may not discharge, discipline, or discriminate against any employee who takes paid sick leave, or files a complaint or proceeding, or testifies in any proceeding related to the benefits and protections provided by the law. Employers also may not require that an employee find another employee to cover the hours during which the employee is using such time. Employers who violate the sick leave requirements or retaliation provisions are subject to civil penalties under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The FFCRA provisions extend through December 31, 2020. Regulations explaining how to notify employers of leave, and what documentation is needed can be found here.
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