Under the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act (MHWFA), certain employees are eligible for paid sick leave (unpaid for employers with less than 15 workers) to care for the employee's illness or to care for a family member's illness. Here is a link for more information about the MHWFA. https://www.dllr.state.md.us/paidleave/paidleavefaqs.shtml
At the federal level, effective April 2, 2020, under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA"), many employees will be entitled to paid time off due to COVID-19-related quarantine. The FFCRA expands the federal Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA") to provide certain employees of employers with under 500 employees up to 12 weeks of leave for, among other things, caring for a child under age 18 if the child's school has closed or the child's caretaker is unavailable due to COVID-19 restrictions. The United States Department of Labor (USDOL) has issued guidance which can be found at: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-employee-paid-leave; https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-questions
In addition to the expansion of the FMLA, the FFCRA also requires employers with under 500 employees to provide employees with at least two weeks of paid sick leave if they are subject to a government-ordered quarantine, if a doctor has recommended that they self-quarantine, or if they are showing any COVID-19 symptoms. This leave, under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, provides that covered employers must pay employees two-thirds of their normal pay for two weeks if they are caring for an individual or child who is subject to a quarantine. See USDOL guidance above for more information.
An employer cannot require an employee to use other paid leave provided by the employer before the employee uses paid sick leave under the federal emergency paid sick leave act.
There is no law that provides job protection for an otherwise healthy employee who refuses to go to work out of fear of contracting COVID-19.
If an employee requests an extended period away from work to treat the employee's own case of COVID-19, or to care for a family member who contracted the virus, the employee may be protected from retaliation under the FMLA. There are other anti-retaliation protections under the FFCRA for employees taking sick leave or extended FMLA leave for a broad range of situations associated with COVID-19, including self-quarantine. The MHWFA also contains anti-retaliation provisions as well.
Yes, with some exceptions. An employee working under a contract would be covered by the terms of the contract. One such example would be a collective bargaining agreement.
Under a recently enacted Maryland law, an employee cannot be terminated by an employer solely on the basis that the employee has been required to be isolated or quarantined as a result of COVID-19. Here is the link to the recent legislation.
There is nothing in Maryland law that would prohibit an employer from requiring that a quarantined employee get tested for coronavirus prior to returning to work.
The unemployment insurance program is administered by the Maryland Department of Labor. The Department has FAQs on their website that address many questions related to claims for unemployment insurance benefits amid the COVID-19 crisis. A link to those questions can be found at: http://www.dllr.maryland.gov/employment/uicovidfaqs.shtml
The White House and Congress agreed on a $2 trillion dollar stimulus package, entitled the CARES Act, that expands both the length and amount of unemployment insurance benefits that are available to unemployed individuals and expands the type of workers that may be eligible for benefits. The CARES Act creates three new Unemployment Insurance programs: the Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program, the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.
Maryland provides up to 26 weeks of Unemployment Insurance benefits. Under the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, claimants will be eligible for an additional 13 weeks of Unemployment Insurance benefits after the 26 weeks has been exhausted, for a total eligibility period of 39 weeks. During the full 39 weeks, the claimant must maintain Unemployment Insurance benefits eligibility requirements, including able to work, available to work, and actively seeking work. Maryland has relaxed the active work search requirement and the able and available for work requirements to receive UI benefits. Click here for FAQs on the work search requirement.
In addition to the extended Unemployment Insurance benefits, states may opt into the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program, which will offer an additional $600 a week in addition to the claimant's Unemployment Insurance weekly benefit amount.
In Maryland, self-employed and gig economy workers are generally not covered under the unemployment compensation system and so are not eligible for benefits (in part because they do not have employers who contribute to Maryland's Unemployment Insurance system). However, under the CARES Act, self-employed workers whose states make an agreement with the Department of Labor will receive Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance based on their recent earnings and will also be able to receive the $600 a week FPUC supplement on top of that benefit.
Those eligible for the FPUA include self-employed workers and independent contractors, gig workers, freelancers, workers seeking part-time work, workers who do not have a long-enough work history to qualify for state Unemployment Insurance benefits, and workers who are unable to work or telework as a result of the coronavirus public health emergency.
Applicants will need to self-certify that they are (1) partially or fully unemployed, or (2) unable and unavailable to work because of one of the following circumstances as outlined in the CARES Act:
Workers are not eligible for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program if they are receiving paid sick days or paid leave.
The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program will run from January 27, 2020 through December 31, 2020. Workers will be eligible for retroactive benefits and can access benefits for a maximum of 39 weeks. Individuals will be able to apply through the Division of Unemployment Insurance at the Maryland Department of Labor, either online or over the phone.
The amount would vary by state. All PUA recipients would be eligible for the $600 a week FPUC supplement. You would also receive a base benefit calculated according to Maryland's benefit formulas and using recent information about your wages, but no lower than half the state's minimum regular UC payment.
Under federal law, tips are considered part of compensation for Unemployment Insurance benefits. However, states only have the tip income reported by employers, who sometimes underreport them, in violation of federal law. If employers fail to follow the law and do not accurately report tip income, it might lower state Unemployment Insurance benefits for those workers, or, in extreme cases, cause them not to have enough recent income to qualify for Unemployment Insurance under state law. Under the CARES Act, tipped workers who qualify for Unemployment Insurance will all receive the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, an additional $600 a week payment, on top of their state Unemployment Insurance payment like any other worker receiving UC benefits. Unemployed workers who do not have enough reported income to qualify for state Unemployment Insurance benefits but are able and available to work, but for COVID-19, would likely be eligible for a smaller federal payment, depending on their state's implementation of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.
Workers who had a contract or other offer of employment suspended due to the COVID-19 outbreak would be eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance calculated by Maryland's Unemployment Insurance program, and also for the $600 a week FPUC supplement.
No, workers who are receiving paid leave are not eligible for Unemployment Insurance.
No, workers who elect to claim the refundable credit would not be eligible for Unemployment Insurance for that time period.
The CARES Act terminates the $600 a week FPUC supplement on July 31, 2020, and other provisions on December 31, 2020.
Most individuals earning less than $75,000 can expect a one-time cash payment of $1,200. Married couples would each receive a check and families would get $500 per child. That means a family of four earning less than $150,000 can expect $3,400.
In addition, Maryland's maximum unemployment benefits are $430 per week. The CARES Act will add an additional $600 per week in UI benefits for 4 months from April 1 - July 31, 2020.
Here's a breakdown if someone is able to maximize benefits for the full period:
An individual able to maximize benefits could receive a total of $28,070.
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