State Shutdown and Paid Sick Time

If you’ve followed our posts relative to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, you know we’ve been waiting for clarification from the Department of Labor (DOL) as to whether Governor Whitmer’s Executive Order closing non-essential businesses last Tuesday constitutes a government quarantine or isolation order giving rise to 80 hours of paid sick leave. The most recent expanded FAQ from the DOL suggests the answer is, “No.”

The DOL notes, in situations where an employer closes the worksite either before or after the Act’s April 1 effective date, “If … your employer sent you home and stops paying you because it does not have work for you to do, you will not get paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave but you may be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits. This is true whether your employer closes your worksite for lack of business or because it is required to close pursuant to a federal, state, or local directive.”

If you are an employer forced to shut down due to the Governor’s order, and you are counting on having the federal government reimburse you for two weeks of continued payroll, you may want to adjust your plans before April 1. Keep in mind that the CARES Act signed into law on Friday dramatically increases unemployment benefits, which will significantly offset the hardship to your employees if you place them on unpaid leave or terminate their employment. It also offers generous payroll loans to small businesses, which may be forgiven over time.

We encourage you to review the DOL’s expanded FAQ, which also speaks to intermittent use of paid sick leave and expanded FMLA leave. Questions? Contact Wright Beamer at info@wrightbeamer.com or (248) 477-6300.