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COVID-19 And Your Workplace Rights: Caring For Yourself And Your Family

COVID-19 and Your Workplace Rights: Caring for Yourself and Your Family

In the midst of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic, the CDC has recommended that everyone take steps to protect themselves and their communities, including avoiding close contact with others. If you have to take time off work sick or your workplace closes down, what are your legal rights? If your child’s school is closed, can you stay home?

We’re updating this page with all the information you need to know about ongoing action and your existing legal rights around paid sick time and paid family and medical leave. Please revisit this page and sign up for our email newsletter or follow A Better Balance on Facebook and Twitter for updates.

Federal Action To Address the Crisis

We have been working with Congress so they can take immediate action on the federal level to enact paid sick leave and paid family and medical leave for all workers.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) was signed into law on March 18 and will go into effect on April 1, 2020. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) was passed by Congress on March 27 and will provide important additional protections, including rights that go into effect immediately.

To learn more, our fact sheet on the FFCRA & the CARES Act is available here.

If you are a worker and have questions about your rights, see our Know Your Rights FAQ here.

The laws provide for 10 paid sick days for covered workers who are sick from the coronavirus, quarantined, affected by closures or caring for a close family member who is sick, quarantined or affected by school or place of care closures, and it provides 12 weeks of partial wage replacement when a child’s school or place of care has been closed, or child care is unavailable, due to COVID-19. In addition, the laws provide several new or expanded rights to unemployment insurance benefits, including a special Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, to provide wage replacement to workers (including self-employed and freelance workers) not working as a result of the crisis.  This is the first time there has been a national law granting paid sick time or paid family leave for workers, and we worked with Congress on these important supports for America’s workers.

Read our statement on the FFCRA here, and see here for the full act. Read our statement on the CARES Act here, and find out more about the new unemployment provisions here.

We have also worked on the PAID Leave Act, introduced on March 17, which would build on the protections in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, guaranteeing emergency paid leave for all workers and creating a permanent right to paid sick time and paid family and medical leave. Learn more about The PAID Leave Act here.

Your State and Local Rights to Paid Sick Time

Laws in your state, county, or city can help. Eleven states, Washington D.C., and dozens of localities guarantee workers a right to paid sick time. ‘Closure provisions‘ in the laws in many jurisdictions also enable workers to stay home to protect their health and their families during times of public health emergencies.

We are working with states across the country as they seek to enact emergency paid sick time to address this crisis. We will update this page with information about those laws are they are enacted. On March 18, New York State passed an emergency paid sick time law—an effort we were proud to help lead.

Our fact sheet New York State’s Emergency Paid Sick Leave Legislation is available here.

For the full list of paid sick time laws, see below or visit our comparative chart here


*laws have ‘closure provisions’ that enable you to use paid sick time when your workplace or child’s school is closed

Counties & Cities:

*laws have ‘closure provisions’ that enable you to use paid sick time when your workplace or child’s school is closed

Note: Three cities in Texas—Austin,  Dallas.and San Antonio—have passed paid sick leave ordinances that are not currently in effect due to pending court challenges

Model Laws for Emergency Paid Sick Time 

We have also developed key principles and model emergency sick time laws that could help address access to sick time in your jurisdiction:

Paid Sick Time During a Public Health Emergency: Key Policy Elements to Include in an Emergency Paid Sick Time Bill

Model Law: Establishing a Permanent Right to Paid Sick and Safe Time that Includes Additional Leave for a Public Health Emergency (2020)

Model Law: Establishing Paid Sick Time Leave for a Public Health Emergency (2020)

Other Laws that Can Help

Regular FMLA protections may apply if you or a covered family member are sick.

FACT SHEET: The Family and Medical Leave Act

If you are a worker with a disability, you may have rights under the Americans with Disability Act. Here’s some information about your employer’s obligations during a pandemic:

EEOC Issues Guidance for the ADA & Pandemic Preparations in the Workplace

Eight states and D.C. guarantee workers paid family and medical leave:

Comparative Chart of Paid Family and Medical Leave Laws in the United States

The Ongoing Push for Permanent National Paid Sick Time & Paid Leave Rights

We are proud to be longtime leaders in the push for passage of the Healthy Families Act, which would create a permanent, nationwide right to seven days of paid sick leave, and the FAMILY Act, which would create a permanent right to three months of paid family and medical leave. All workers need time to care for themselves and their loved ones, and not just during times of crisis.

Fact Sheet: Nationwide Paid Sick Days are Essential for Public Health

Fact Sheet: The Healthy Families Act

Fact Sheet: The FAMILY Act

A Better Balance is here to provide workers with information about their rights around caring for themselves and their loved ones.

Call our free, confidential legal helpline at 1-833-NEED-ABB (1-833-633-3222) if you have questions or if you believe your rights have been violated.


Donate today to our COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick & Family Leave Legal Fund to support working families and caregivers nationwide! 

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