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Workers rights: Here's how the new coronavirus legislation protects you

Along with stimulus payments and expanded unemployment benefits, Americans now have expanded rights for paid sick leave and the ability to stay home to take care of a family member, thanks to the recently-passed Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).

The act provides Americans additional benefits effective through December 31, 2020. Here’s what you need to know about your new rights at work.

Paid sick leave

Under the FFCRA, many employers are required to provide paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for COVID-19-related reasons.

Young small business man owner with face mask working on checkout
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) provides Americans additional benefits effective through December 31, 2020. (Photo: Getty Creative)

“If employees are sick or if they've been quarantined, then they're entitled to two weeks of sick leave at their regular salary for coronavirus-related reasons,” said Daniel Feinstein, a labor and employment lawyer at Davis & Gilbert.

The qualifying reasons are that an employee:

  • is under Federal, State or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19,

  • has been advised to self-quarantine by a health care provider related to COVID-19,

  • is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a diagnosis,

  • is caring for someone who is under a self-quarantine order,

  • is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed related to COVID-19,

  • or, is experiencing any other substantially-similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Self-employed and part-time workers

In the majority of those cases, part-time employees will be eligible to receive paid sick leave equal to the average of their two-week work period. Those who are self-employed may be eligible for a tax credit corresponding to their sick leave time, according to the FFCRA.

What if you have to stay home with your kids?

The FFCRA gives more leeway to employees who can’t work because they have childcare responsibilities due to schools being shut down.

“They’re now entitled to these 10 weeks of leave at partial pay,” Feinstein said. The partial pay is around two-thirds of the employee’s usual pay.

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You have to be employed for at least 30 days to qualify for the additional 10 weeks of paid family leave at two-thirds of your pay rate. An employee also has to be taking care of a child whose school or place of care is closed due to COVID-19 related reason to qualify.

Does this include your employer?

The expanded provisions of the FFCRA apply to some public employers as well as private employers with fewer than 500 employers. Employers will receive tax credits in order to be compensated for the costs for the additional leave.

If you work for a small business with fewer than 50 employees you may not be eligible for some of the provisions of the act.

Most federal workers are not covered by those provisions but are covered by the paid sick leave provision of the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Denitsa is a reporter for Yahoo Finance and Cashay, a new personal finance website. Follow her on Twitter @denitsa_tsekova.

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