The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on New Jersey’s employment landscape for more than a year. Congress passed several bills in 2020 intended to help people impacted by the pandemic, both medically and economically. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which became law in March 2020, provided paid sick leave and paid and unpaid family leave for people who were either directly affected by the virus, or who were caring for one or more affected family members. These provisions expired at the end of 2020. The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) became law in March 2021, and includes extensions and expansions of both family leave and paid sick leave.
The FFCRA created a new federal system for paid sick leave, and expanded the provisions for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The law required most employers with fewer than five hundred employees to provide emergency paid sick leave (EPSL) to workers who could not come to work, in person or virtually, for reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including
– Quarantine on the orders of a government official, or the recommendation of a doctor;
– Symptoms of COVID-19;
– Caring for a family or household members who is subject to a quarantine order or recommendation; or
– Caring for a child whose school was closed due to the pandemic.
EPSL covered an employee’s regular rate of pay, up to a maximum of either $511 per day or $5,110 total. Employees could take up to eighty hours of paid leave. Employers received a credit against the Social Security portion of their payroll taxes for paid leave provided to their employees.