Emergency paid sick leave was struck down. What alternatives do employees have now?

March 13, 2020

UPDATE: On March 18th, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act was signed in by President Trump that includes Emergency Paid Sick and Emergency Family Leave. Read more about the legislation

Although the emergency paid sick leave legislation was struck down in the Senate on Wednesday, there are a few alternatives employees have if they already used their allotted sick leave. 

One option is for an employee to request advanced sick leave, but the amount of leave cannot exceed the amount the employee would accrue during the remainder of the leave year. Plus, a maximum of 30 days of sick leave may be advanced for an employee’s serious disability or ailment. 

Another option for an employee who has exhausted their own paid leave who is facing a personal or family medical emergency is to pull from a voluntary leave bank program if one has been established. A leave bank program is an initiative growing among small businesses and non-profits that allows workers to donate their unused sick and vacation days to their coworkers.

An employee may also request leave without pay. Employees should always first consult with their human resources department to find the best policy that fits their needs. 

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is continuing to work closely with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of State, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) at the Department of Labor to provide timely information to Federal agencies. 

Employers seeking additional help while navigating the health emergency can download the full OPM Memorandum: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Additional Guidance here

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