Thirteen states and Washington D.C. have enacted laws to require paid sick leave.
Connecticut was the first state to require private-sector employers to provide paid sick leave to their employees, with a law enacted in 2011. California became the second state to enact paid sick requirements, with the passage of the Healthy Workplace, Healthy Families Act of 2014. Massachusetts was the third state to require paid sick leave, as voters there approved the Earned Sick Time for Employees ballot measure during the 2014 general election. The Oregon Legislature enacted a law during the 2015 session, and the Vermont Legislature did so during the 2016 session.
During the 2016 general election, voters in Arizona and Washington approved ballot measures requiring employers to provide paid sick leave. The Rhode Island Legislature was the only state to pass a paid sick leave law in 2017, which will take effect in 2018. In 2018, Maryland, New Jesey and Michigan enacted paid sick leave measures. Two more states, Nevada and Maine, enacted paid sick leave laws in 2019. Nevada's paid sick leave law took effect at the start of 2020, Maine's does not take effect until 2021. Additional details on paid sick leave coverage and benefits are provided in the table below.
COVID-19 and Paid Sick Leave
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Congress enacted emergency legislation to temporarily give many Americans access paid leave if they need to take time off work because of the virus. A few states have also temporarily broadened access to paid sick leave in response to the impact of the coronavirus, but no permanent, broad paid sick leave measures have been adopted.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act requires certain employers to provide paid sick leave to employees who are sick, need to quarantine or self-isolate, care for a sick or quarantined family member, or care for a child whose school has been closed. It also creates an employer tax credit to fully offset the costs of providing this benefit. The paid sick leave requirement does not apply to employers with more than 500 employees. The Secretary of the Department of Labor is permitted to issue regulations exempting businesses with fewer than 50 employees from the paid leave requirement if it "would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern.”
Full-time employees receive 80 hours of sick leave under the new emergency leave program and part-time workers would be granted time off that is equivalent to their scheduled or normal work hours. Employers with existing paid sick leave policies cannot require a worker to use other available paid leave before using the federally-provided sick time. Employers are prohibited from requiring a worker to find replacement coverage for their hours during their time off and discharging or discriminating against workers for requesting such paid sick leave.
Employees are eligible to receive their rate of pay up to $511 per day while the employee is in quarantine up to $5,110 in aggregate. Employees can also receive their full rate of pay up to $200 per day up to a maximum of $2000 if the are taking leave to care for a family member or child whose school has closed. Eligible employers are entitled to a fully refundable tax credit equal to the required paid sick leave. Government entities cannot receive the credit.
Colorado: Governor Polis signed an executive order (CO 13-2020) that required the department of labor and development to develop emergency regulations for paid leave. The Colorado Health Emergency Leave with Pay Rules (“Colorado HELP” 7 CCR 1103-10) requires up to four days of paid sick for employees being tested for coronavirus COVID-19 in select industries which include: leisure and hospitality; food services; child care; education, including transportation, food service, and related work at educational establishments; home health, if working with elderly, disabled, ill, or otherwise high-risk individuals and; nursing homes and community living facilities. In July, 2020, Colorado also enacted a separate paid sick leave bill (CO S 205). The bill calls for employers to grant one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to 48 in a year. Employers can grant more leave, however, at their discretion.
New York: The state passed the most generous paid leave package (S 8091) of any state thus far in response. Large employers must provide 14 days of paid sick leave for any quarantine or isolation order. Mid-size employers and small employers worth more than $1 million must provide 5 days of paid sick leave. Small employers must provide job-protected, unpaid leave for the duration of any quarantine or isolation order. Any worker who does not receive 14 days of paid sick leave can apply for “quarantine leave” benefits and the state will provide eligible employees with full wage replacement benefits for up to 14 days using a combination of state Temporary Disability Insurance and Paid Family and Medical leave insurace benefits.
North Carolina: Public school teachers were granted expanded paid leave benefits by the state board of education.