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COVID-19: Paid Leave for Maritime Employees

March 23, 2020

Overview

The new federal paid family leave act will potentially hit maritime employers heavily. With many maritime employers being in a critical infrastructure industry, they will keep operating during the COVID-19 pandemic and workers will be entitled to paid leave under this new law. HR 6201 is a broad-ranging response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Two principal provisions of HR 6201 will impact employers—a temporary expansion of the Family and Medical Leave Act (EFMLA) to provide paid leave for employees unable to work due to closure of schools and child-care facilities and temporary paid sick leave for COVID-19-related absences (“Paid Sick Leave”). HR 6201 will become effective April 1, 2020 (15 days after enactment).

After a 10-day period of unpaid leave, the EFMLA leave must be paid. At minimum, the paid leave must be at two-thirds of the employee’s regular rate of pay (as determined under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for overtime purposes) for the employee’s normally scheduled hours. However, the paid leave requirement need not exceed $200 per day and $10,000 in total.

Here is a very brief outline of the EFMLA and federal paid sick leave:

  • Applies to employers with fewer than 500 employees
  • Full-time employees may take up to 80 hours of federal paid sick leave if there is a governmental quarantine order, an employee is advised by a health care provider to quarantine, or the employee is sick or caring for someone who is sick with COVID-19, or an employee has to care for a child whose school is closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Pay for these 80 hours is at the employee’s full rate of pay up to a cap depending on the reason for the federal paid sick leave 
  • EFMLA provides pay for 12 weeks due to COVID-19 school and child-care facility closures
  • First 10 days of leave are unpaid (but employees can use other paid leave, like the federal paid sick leave)
  • Remainder of the 12-week leave period is paid at two-thirds of employee’s normal rate times employee’s normal workweek up to a maximum of $200 per day and $10,000 total
  • 100% tax credit reimbursed quarterly to employers who pay out EFMLA or federal sick leave pay

HR 6201 contains a limited exception for employers who are signatories to multiemployer collective bargaining agreements, to the extent employees can access pay for EFMLA leave under a multiemployer plan. Under such circumstances, the employer must pay into the multiemployer plan based on the paid EFMLA leave eligible employees take. Outside of this limited exception, EFMLA leave is in addition to any paid leave provided for under a CBA.

If you have any questions about this law, please contact us.

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