The purpose of this bill is to establish leave time for public health emergencies and modify existing provisions concerning such paid sick leave.
As introduced, the bill’s requirements would apply to companies with more than 50 employees. An employee would qualify for the public health emergency leave due to one or more of the following conditions:
If an employee qualifies for leave, the amount of leave the employee receives varies based on the hours per week that the employee works. In particular, employees who work 40 hours or more per week shall be provided with 80 hours of leave. For employees who work fewer than 40 hours in a week, the bill requires the employer to provide leave equal to the amount of time the employee works during a two-week period. An employee is entitled to use the leave under this proposal until one week following the official termination or suspension of the public health emergency.
If passed as proposed, the bill will immediately take effect with the bill’s obligations applying retroactively to January 1, 2021. Once the bill becomes law, an employer would be required to provide its employees with notice, including notifying employees via electronic communication or posting on a web-based platform where employees are not on-site.
Employers should remain mindful of how this bill would coincide with leave requirements under federal or state law. Specifically, employers may substitute leave under the federal or state law for its obligations under this bill, to the extent that the federal or state law coincides and the federal or state law permits concurrent use of paid leave. Further, to the extent that the requirements of this bill exceed the requirements of federal or state laws, employers should provide additional 2021 public health emergency leave.
Lastly, the bill also provides employees with a private right of action. After a public health emergency is declared or proclaimed, an employee shall have the right to file a civil action against an employer alleging a violation of the bill without first filing an administration complaint.
While this bill was sponsored by 11 of 17 of the city’s council members, further action remains until this bill becomes law. This proposed legislation is still subject to review by a committee and possibly further revisions. Following this, a majority of the city’s council members need to vote in the affirmative for the bill and the mayor needs to sign the bill.
The Coronavirus Task Force at Klehr Harrison stands ready to assist you in your business and legal needs. We will continue to provide additional information and guidance as the COVID-19 situation develops.
Author Jonathan Krause is chair of the litigation department at Klehr Harrison.