COVID-19 & Your Business: Frequent Questions

Are employees who are laid off prior to April 1, 2020 eligible for emergency paid sick leave or emergency family and medical leave?

The DOL guidelines clarify that, if an “employer sent you home and stops paying you because it does not have work for you to do, you will not get paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave but you may be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits. This is true whether your employer closes your worksite for lack of business or because it is required to close pursuant to Federal, State, or local directive.” (DOL Guideline #23). That being said, there may be still be risk in doing so. For instance, plant closings or mass layoffs of fifty (50) or more employees may trigger WARN Act requirements. Additionally, terminating employees who are likely to be child care givers could raise questions of sex discrimination. Further, terminating individuals who have been exposed to COVID-19 might raise questions of “regarded as” discrimination under the ADA or even age discrimination.

In short, counsel should be consulted on the specifics of any employment situation.

Last updated April 9

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