The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act: An Explainer.
What it is, why you might be eligible, and what to do
Compiled based on information from Sur Legal Collaborative and the Department of Labor. Contributions from journalist Sonam Vashi.
If you missed work due to COVID-related reasons between April 2020 and December 2020 and you did NOT get paid , you may be eligible for back pay under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA).
What is EPLSA?
EPSLA was passed by Congress to require certain employers to provide paid sick leave for employees who had to miss work due to COVID-19-related reasons.
EPSLA provides up to 80 hours (2 weeks) of paid sick leave, based on your regular rate of pay, but only if the leave was taken between April and December 2020.
Am I eligible?
You can check your potential eligibility using this tool from the federal Department of Labor.
EPSLA applies only to certain employers, including:
Private employers with 50-500 employees
*Employers with fewer than 50 employees may be exempted, as well as employers of emergency responders.*
What are the reasons for missing work that would qualify me?
You could be eligible for back pay if you could not work, in-person or remotely, because of COVID-related reasons, which include:
You were subject to a government quarantine or isolation order. (The State of Georgia enacted a stay at home order between Friday, April 3, 2020 and April 27, 2020. The City of Atlanta enacted a stay at home order between March 23, 2020 and May 27, 2020; as well as between July 10, 2020 and September 11, 2020.)
A healthcare provider advised you to self-quarantine, or
You had COVID-19 symptoms and sought a medical diagnosis.
Additionally, for the following COVID-related reasons, you may be eligible for back pay based on ⅔ of your regular rate of pay, if you had to care for a person who was:
Subject to a government quarantine or isolation order, or
Advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine or,
You had to care for your child whose school or child care was closed due to COVID-19
How do I receive the back pay?
File a complaint with your local Wage & Hour Division Office within two years of when that leave was taken. This year is the last year to file a complaint.
To file a complaint, call the Atlanta Wage and Hour district office at 404-893-4541
When you call, an office representative will walk you through a series of questions to determine if there is a violation and advise on how to file a complaint. Information that would be helpful includes:
The company name, company location, and contact information
The period of employment
whether the company employs 500 or more workers
The period you were or needed to be out of work related to COVID
The reason you needed to be out due to COVID
The type of work you did
Any allegations of potential violation
For more information about EPSLA and your eligibility, please visit the Department of Labor’s FAQs or call your local Wage and Hour Division office. If you live in Georgia, the number is 404-893-4541.