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Employee Rights in the Workplace During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Family and Medical Leave Act

According to the Family and Medical Leave Act, covered workers can take up to twelve weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave a year due to a medical condition.

The Family and Medical Leave Act covers employers who have employed fifty or more workers for twenty or more weeks of the current or preceding year. Employees must have worked for the company for at least twelve months, with a total of 1,250 hours over the previous year to be eligible for FMLA leave.

Can an Employee Qualify for Leave Under FMLA If He/She Is Tested Positive for Coronavirus?

An employee will certainly qualify for twelve weeks of job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act in case he has been tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19).

In case a person takes care of a family member with coronavirus, he also qualifies for up to twenty-six weeks of FMLA leave over a twelve-month period.

Fair Labor Standards Act

Fair Labor Standards Act is a federal law which sets overtime rules and minimum wage. In some cases, different rules apply depending on whether a person is an exempt or non-exempt employee.

Most salaried workers are exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act while many hourly workers are non-exempt. In case the employer decides to close due to the coronavirus outbreak, exempt employees are entitled to get their regular pay. On the other hand, according to this law, non-exempt workers, who are usually hourly employees, aren’t entitled to be paid.

Workers’ Compensation

Is an Employee Eligible for Workers’ Compensation Benefits If He Contracted the COVID-19 in His Workplace or on a Business Trip?

Generally, workers’ compensation is available for those employees who suffer occupational illness or injury at work. Under workers’ compensation law ordinary diseases such as cold and flu aren’t compensable, even if the employee caught them from a colleague.

Although, in case there is something unique to a person’s profession which makes it more likely for him/her to get a disease than any other typical employee, then he/she might be eligible for workers’ compensation.

The list of such workers can include:

  • Doctors and nurses
  • Flight attendants
  • Home health care workers

As the COVID-19 outbreak is very unprecedented it is uncertain under what circumstances an employee can qualify for workers’ comp benefits. That’s why it is very important to consult an employment lawyer to get more about available options.

What Can a Person Do If His Employer Cut His Hours, Forced Him to Take Unpaid Leave or Ended the Employment Due to COVID-19?

In this case, an employee can file a claim for Unemployment Insurance benefits with the California Employment Development Department. To get benefits, the employee must meet some minimum requirements, including having an immigration status which allows him/her to work and enough past earnings. If the California Employment Development Department approves the claim, the employee can get between $40 and $450 each week, depending on his/her past earnings.

In case an employee has lost his/her job as a result of COVID-19, the California Employment Development Department has waived the one-week waiting period during which the employee otherwise would not receive Unemployment Insurance benefits.

In case an employee is temporarily out of work and wants to return to the same employer, he/she doesn’t have to meet the regular requirement of looking for work while he/she is collecting UI benefits. But, in case the person is not connected to a certain employer with a job to return to, he/she is obliged to search for a job while collecting UI benefits.

Get in touch with us at (310) 943-1171 for more information and Coronavirus (COVID-19) legal help now!

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