Paid Leave Laws Expand to Cover the Coronavirus

By Kris Janisch
Published April 14, 2020

Paid Leave Laws Expand to Cover the Coronavirus

The world of paid leave laws has become more complex with the nation in the grips of the coronavirus. Employers should be ready to re-examine the applicable laws where they have locations to ensure compliance.

As COVID-19 has swept across the U.S., cities, states and even the federal government have stepped in with expanded paid leave laws to cover the coronavirus.

During the initial weeks following the outbreak of the pandemic, many jurisdictions enacted new paid leave laws or made changes to existing legislation to cover the impacts of the public health emergency. However, since the federal government passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), the rate at which lawmakers are updating paid leave legislation has begun to slow.

Still, because of the ever-changing nature of the coronavirus, employers with locations across the country may want to check local jurisdictions for any potential changes to paid sick leave and paid family and medical leave laws.

Consult local resources for further specifics about the new and expanded paid leave laws referenced below.

Related Employment Law News blogs:

Paid Leave Laws in Response to the CoronavirusFor an at-a-glance look at laws in response to COVID-19, check out our latest tip sheet.


Of course, the most sweeping of the paid leave laws in response to the coronavirus came at the federal level with the passage of the FFCRA.

Signed into law on March 18, the FFCRA marked the first time in U.S. history the federal government gave workers paid leave. Applying to businesses with fewer than 500 employees, the law includes both paid sick leave and paid family and medical leave.

For employers, there are many factors to consider, including the time frames for usage, how long the worker has been employed with the company to qualify and more. Find more information on our previous blog, Coronavirus: Federal Government Enacts Emergency Paid Sick Leave, Family and Medical Leave.

Coming Soon: GovDocs Paid Leave

Coronavirus Paid Leave Laws: States

At the state level, most of the coronavirus-related legislation has been paid sick leave rather than paid family and medical leave.


California made a tweak to its paid sick leave statute to include a public health quarantine as “preventative care.” The law is now in effect.


Colorado passed emergency paid sick leave related to COVID-19. But it only applies to certain industries. See the blog referenced above for further specifics about Colorado’s measure. It will be effective as long as Colorado is under an emergency state.

New Jersey

Already with one of the nation’s most comprehensive paid sick leave laws, New Jersey expanded its statute to cover closures of workplaces and schools due to a public health emergency or quarantine. Similarly, its family leave insurance and disability programs were also expanded to include reasons related to COVID-19.

Both were made permanent under the legislation.

New York

Like Colorado, New York passed an emergency paid sick leave law in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Its law differs from Colorado’s, however, and guarantees job protection and pay for New York State employees subject to quarantine from state agencies. Also, there are different levels of requirements by employer size. Again, refer the previous Employment Law News blog for specifics.

Meanwhile, the state also expanded its paid family and medical leave statute to allow use due to coronavirus-related reasons.


Oregon has enacted an emergency paid family and medical leave regulation, which runs through Sept. 13.

Coronavirus Paid Leave Laws: Cities

Like the states that have acted in the face of the coronavirus, many cities have expanded laws to cover COVID-19.

Emeryville, Calif.

Long a pacesetter when it comes to employment law, Emeryville, Calif., added guidance to its paid sick leave law to cover closures and quarantines due to a public health emergency such as the coronavirus.

Los Angeles

In Los Angeles, its supplemental emergency paid sick leave ordinance is in effect now until Dec. 31, 2020.


Philadelphia also opted for a supplemental emergency paid sick leave ordinance, which expands the definition of preventative medical care to include COVID-19. It is a temporary provision.

San Francisco

San Francisco added a public health emergency leave ordinance and updated the guidance for its paid sick leave ordinance. Some of the changes to its paid sick leave ordinance include eligibility, use and verification, with some portions of the law temporary and others permanent.

San Jose

San hose has plans to make changes to its paid sick leave policy, but final approval isn’t expected until April 21.


Seattle amended its paid sick and safe time ordinance with permanent changes, including expanded use due to business, school and place of care closures (or a reduction in hours).

Washington, D.C.

Finally, the nation’s capital permanently expanded its paid family and medical leave law to cover a declaration of emergency.


The world of paid leave laws has become more complex with the nation in the grips of the coronavirus.

Employers should be ready to re-examine the applicable laws where they have locations to ensure compliance.

New name. Same great content. To better reflect the nature of the GovDocs blog, and the company’s mission, we have updated the name. Welcome to Employment Law News!

This Employment Law News Blog is intended for market awareness only, it is not to be used for legal advice or counsel.

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