Sick Time to Care for Another Person The paid sick time trigger of needing to care for another person applies only if, but for a need to care for an individual, the employee would be able to perform work. This means an employee caring for an individual may not take paid sick leave if the employer does not have work for him or her. In addition, the employee must have a genuine need to care for the individual and the individual being cared for must be: • Subject to a formal quarantine or isolation order. • Have been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine based on a belief that he or she has COVID-19, may have COVID-19, or is particularly vulnerable to COVID- 19. Sick Time to Care for Son or Daughter Paid sick time also be taken when the employee is unable to work because the employee needs to care for his or her son or daughter if:
• The child's school or place of care has closed; or • The childcare provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 related reasons.
Here again, the employee must be able to perform work for his or her employer but for the need to care for his or her son or daughter, which means an employee may not take paid sick leave if the employer does not have work for him or her. The regulations also specify that an employee may take paid sick leave to care for his or her child only when the employee needs to, and actually is, caring for his or her child. Generally, an employee does not need to take such leave if another suitable individual, such as a co- parent, co-guardian, or the usual childcare provider, is available to provide childcare. Must it be Additional Sick Time? Technically, no. Practically, yes. A key question has arisen about whether the new COVID-19 paid sick time needs to be a standalone, separate benefit, or whether it can be overlaid onto an existing sick leave program. The bill does not specifically state that the 10 days of COVID- 19 paid sick time must be provided in addition to whatever paid sick time or PTO the employer already provides to its employees. That said, let’s look at reality. If an employer has a policy that provides 10 days of regular sick leave, technically, they wouldn't need to add more; rather, they would just need to make sure the sick leave that was provided encompassed all COVID-19 sick leave requirements. Practically speaking, there are complications to that approach. For example, if an employee has already used up some or all of their regular sick leave, the employer would need to provide additional COVID-19 sick leave on top of the regular sick leave. To retrofit existing sick time policies with the COVID-19 requirements would be very difficult to administer (for tracking, payroll coordination, and tax credit reporting purposes). The reality is that employers are quickly taking action to set up a new bank of COVID-19 sick leave. Importantly, tracking will be imperative for tax credit purposes. Other than lost productivity from sick leave, there is no direct financial loss to the employer for doing so because they will be reimbursed for the expense through the payroll tax credit.
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