Paid Sick Depart for Self-Storage Employees: Understanding COVID-19 Legal guidelines

Life has changed dramatically this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Companies have been forced to adapt to many new developments, including new personnel laws. As a self-storage operator, for example, you asked yourself what happens if an employee has to miss work due to COVID-19, either because they get sick or because they have to look after someone in their family who gets sick.

On March 18, Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) on these types of questions. The law contains two separate pieces of legislation relating to paid leave. Both expire on December 31st, but there is a possibility that they will be renewed. They apply to private companies with fewer than 500 employees. Therefore, self-storage operators need to understand these regulations and how they affect the operation of the facility.

Emergency Paid Leave Act (EPSLA)

The EPSLA allows an employee to take paid sick leave when they cannot work (including teleworking). because he is:

  1. Subject to a federal, state, or local level quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19
  2. Recommended for self-quarantine by a health care provider
  3. Experiencing COVID-19 Symptoms and Finding a Medical Diagnosis
  4. Care of a person who is subject to an order or self-quarantine
  5. Taking care of a child whose school, care center or childcare facility is closed or unavailable due to COVID-19
  6. Experiencing another substantially similar condition as determined by the US Secretary of Health in consultation with the US Secretary of Labor and the US Treasury Secretary

Under EPSLA, all full-time employees are entitled to up to 80 hours of paid sick leave. Part-time employees are entitled to paid time off equal to the number of hours they have worked on average over a period of two weeks.

If an employee takes one, two, or three paid sick leave for any of the above, they must pay their regular wage or applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher, with a maximum of $ 511 per day and $ 5,110 over a two-month Week period. If he takes paid sick leave for reasons four, five, or six, he must be paid two-thirds of his regular rate or two-thirds of the applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher, with a maximum of $ 200 per day and $ 2,000 over two – Week period.

A notice with information about EPSLA must be published on your construction site. And in addition:

  • Emergency sick leave is available to all employees, regardless of how long they have been with the company.
  • Paid leave can be taken intermittently if the reason is reason five above (loss of childcare).
  • Employers cannot demand that an employee who is looking for leave find replacement for their working time. That is the responsibility of the employer.

Law on the Extension of Family Leave and Medical Leave (EFMLEA)

The EFMLEA enables employees to take emergency leave for certain absences related to COVID-19. However, this only applies to people who have been employed for at least 30 days. It covers employees who need time off to look after a child because the child’s school or care center is closed, or the carer is not available due to a COVID emergency.

Eligible employees can receive up to 12 weeks of vacation under the EFMLEA. The first 10 days are unpaid, but employees can take another paid vacation for these days, including within the EPSLA. Employees taking vacation under the EFMLEA will receive a rate that is at least two-thirds of their regular rate times the number of hours in their average work week, with a maximum of $ 200 per day for a total of $ 10,000.

Employees who take leave under the EFMLEA are generally guaranteed to hold the same or substantially equivalent position as the employer when he has 25 or more employees. If the company has fewer than 25 employees, it is not required to meet these obligations if any of the following conditions are met:

  • The employee said goodbye to take care of a child whose care was not available due to COVID.
  • The employee’s position no longer exists due to economic conditions or other changes caused by the pandemic.
  • The employer has made reasonable efforts to return the employee to an equivalent position. If these efforts fail, the employer must make reasonable efforts for a period of time to contact the employee when an equivalent position becomes available.

Companies with fewer than 50 employees may be exempt from paying EPSLA paid leave or EFMLEA for the following reasons:

  • Closing of School or loss of childcare due to COVID-19 when vacation would result in employer’s expenses and financial obligations exceeding available business income and company ceasing to operate with minimal capacity
  • The absence of the employee would pose a significant risk to the financial health or operational performance of the employer due to his / her expertise, knowledge or responsibilities
  • The employer cannot find enough other workers who are able, willing and qualified and who will be available needed at the time and place carry out the work or services of the employee The application for vacation offers, and these manpower or services are required in order for the employer to work with a minimal capacity

Refusal to work by the employee

What happens if your self-storage facility is open for business operations, but an employee does not want to come to work for fear of being infected with the coronavirus? The first step is to clarify why he doesn’t want to return and see if you can allay his concerns.

An employee’s refusal to work can also have federal or state law implications. For example, the Occupational Safety and Health Act allows an employee to refuse to work if the employee believes he is in imminent danger and the employer does not have enough time to eliminate it. However, this fear cannot be general; A general fear of catching COVID may not be enough. Additionally, complying with state, state, and local coronavirus prevention guidelines helps thwart employee claims.

If the employee is part of a higher risk group with pre-existing medical conditions, they may be eligible for decent work accommodation under the Disabled American Act, such as teleworking, plexiglass separators, or other obstacles to maintain a minimum distance between customers and employees. In these situations, it is best to be flexible and find adequate accommodation so that the employee can continue working.

The National Labor Relations Act allows non-union workers to engage in sheltered concerted activities, including refusal to work due to unsafe conditions. In this way, it protects a group of non-union workers who are exposed to unsafe conditions, e.g. B. if they are not equipped with adequate personal protective equipment, refuse to work, prior to discipline or dismissal from the employer. However, refusal by employees to work must be done fairly and in good faith.

It is important for self-storage employers and workers to understand the paid vacation rights granted under these temporary federal laws, as well as any applicable state laws. In such strange and unpredictable times, flexibility and understanding for your employees can go a long way in building and maintaining a strong working relationship.

Ashley Oblinger is a lawyer at the law firm Weissmann Zucker Euster Morochnik & Garber, PC in Atlanta, where he specializes in commercial and self-storage law and advises operators nationwide on all legal issues, including lease preparation, lien, tenant issues and Tenants – Defense and Employment Claims. To reach him, call 404.760.7434. Email [email protected].

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