Beginning Jan. 1, federal mandate will not require paid leave for employees with COVID-19

Virus Outbreak Congress
Posted at 2:31 PM, Dec 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-24 16:13:09-05

Beginning Jan. 1, employers will no longer be required by federal mandate to give employees who become sick with COVID-19 two weeks of paid leave. However, any existing state or local policy regarding providing paid leave remains unchanged.

According to Buzzfeed News, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked the paid leave mandate's extension from the $900 billion stimulus package passed by Congress earlier this week.

According to the Huffington Post, Democrats wanted to extend the paid leave into the new year since there's an uptick in COVID-19 cases. Still, Republicans felt renewing the mandate would make it permanent, which they did not want to happen.

Colorado law still requires paid leave in 2021, according to CDLE Division of Labor Standards and Statistics. The Colorado Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (HFWA), signed by Governor Jared Polis in July, immediately required up to 80 hours of leave for full-time employees for COVID-19 needs, including: being sick, testing, quarantining due to exposure or caring for others with such needs.

Regardless of federal law, HFWA still provides 80-hour COVID leave in 2021 because of Colorado’s COVID-19 state of emergency, as newly released rules and guidance from the CDLE Division of Labor Standards and Statistics clarify.

As of Jan. 1, 2021, HFWA also requires up to 48 hours of paid leave for a broad range of health needs—not just for COVID—with 30 hours worked accruing one hour's paid leave, but employees retain the right to a full 80 hours for COVID needs.

HFWA covers all Colorado employees and employers, in all jobs and industries, with only three exceptions: the federal government and certain railroad employees are fully exempt; employers with under 16 employees are exempt until 2022 from the new 48-hour leave for broader health needs, but not from 80-hour COVID leave, which already has applied to employers of all sizes since July.

In March, Congress passed the CARES Act, which required employers to provide employees up to two weeks of paid sick leave if they contract COVID and two weeks of paid leave to care for a sick relative. It also allowed employers to use up to 10 weeks of paid family leave if a child's school or daycare was closed due to the coronavirus.

Although the latest stimulus bill doesn't extend the sick or family leave mandates, the bill would still allow businesses' to subsidize costs with a refundable tax credit if they provide paid leave until March 31, 2021.

According to CNBC, 87 million workers eligible for paid sick, and family leave under the act could be affected.