Can My Employer Make Me Come to Work During the Coronavirus Pandemic? (Iowa 2020 Update)

Can My Employer Make Me Come to Work During the Coronavirus Pandemic (2020 Update)The new Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) created the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA) which provided some temporary protections (they end December 31, 2020) to the FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) and the EPSLA (Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act) which provides compensation for time off work because of the Coronavirus for specific situations. 

Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA)

Who is eligible? If you have worked for an employer for at least the past 30 calendar days.

What conditions allow me to not go to work under the EFMLEA? If you need to care for your child under 18 years of age if their school or daycare has been closed because of the public health emergency (in this case the Coronavirus).

Which employers are required to comply? Unfortunately, as with many legislative bills it was not written very clearly and the DOL (Department of Labor) recently posted 80 pages of temporary regulations so it is not exactly clear which employers are required to comply with the EFMLEA. Generally, it appears that private employers with 500 or more employees based in the United States or its territories are not required to comply and have no obligations under the statute. Employers with fewer than 500 full-time and part-time employees are covered, but employers with fewer than 50 employees may or may not be required to comply with the longer EFMLEA provisions.

How much will I be paid? Generally, the first 2 weeks are unpaid, but you are allowed to use your other paid leave. After the first two weeks, you can be paid for up to another 10 weeks at two-thirds of your average rate of pay over the past 6 months subject to a cap of $200 per day.

What should I do? If you think that you are or may be eligible then you should provide in writing to your employer you name, dates of requested leave, the reason you will be gone, the name of your child/children that you need to care for, the name of the school, pre-school or place of care that has been closed and a statement that you have no other suitable person to care for your child/children.

What will happen to my job when I come back? If your employer has 25 or more employees then you should be returned to your previous employment, unless your employer shows that the position no longer exists due to economic conditions caused by the health emergency, and your employer shows they have made reasonable efforts to restore you to an equivalent position.

Also, please keep in mind that the FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) normal rules still apply such that FMLA leave is still unpaid, limited to 12 weeks per company year, etc.

 

EPSLA (Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act)

All employees are covered however health care providers and emergency responders defined below are excluded.

Which occupations are excluded? If you are a health care provider or an emergency responder then your employer may exclude you from the EPSLA’s Paid Sick Leave requirements and/or the EFMLEA’s Expanded Family and Medical Leave requirements. The DOL regulations definitions of healthcare providers and emergency responders include not only physicians and nurses, but also employees at doctor’s offices, employees who manufacture medical products and lab workers.

What conditions allow me to not go to work and be paid under the EPSLA?

            1. If you are subject to a quarantine or isolation order that is related to the Coronavirus/Covid-19

            2. If you have been advised by a health care provider that you need to self-quarantine because of a health condition that you have. For example, asthma, COPD, diabetes, etc.

            3. If you are caring for someone who is covered by the above (1) or (2).

            4. If you are having Covid-19 symptoms and seeking medical care and diagnosis.

            5. If you are caring for your child/children because their school, pre-school or daycare has been closed because of Covid-19.

            6. If you are experiencing any other "substantially similar condition" to one of the above as defined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

 

How many days are you allowed to miss under EPSLA? If you are a full-time employee, then you will receive 80 hours of paid leave. If you are part-time then you will be paid the average hours over a two-week period.

How much are you paid under the EPSLA? For the above reasons (1)-(3) you are paid your regular wage up to a maximum of $511 per day. If you miss work for reasons (4)-(6) then you are paid 2/3 of your regular rate of pay up to $200 per day.

Can my employer make me find a replacement worker under the EPSLA? The law prohibits your employer to require you to find another employee to cover for you while you are off work. Further, your employer may not discharge, discipline, or discriminate against you in any other manner for asserting your rights under the EPSLA.

Keep in mind that these are brand new laws and regulations interpreting these laws are coming out often such that the above may not be accurate. If you have applied for one or both of the above and been denied benefits, terminated, or discriminated against then you should seek the advice and opinions of a qualified employment law attorney.


Related Articles

I Was Fired Because I Spoke Out About Lack of Protection (PPE) and Got Sick Do I Have a Case?‚Äč

Can My Employer Make Me Come In If I Have Coronavirus Symptoms?

What If I Get Coronavirus (Covid 19) From My Job?
Corey Walker
Connect with me
With over 22 years legal experience, Corey has been recognized for his work as an injury attorney.