Alabama Employees and the COVID-19 Virus

Thank you to our volunteer attorney, Henry Brewster, and his staff for preparing this information. This is an evolving situation and we will work with Mr. Brewster to keep this information as up-to-date as possible.


Alabama Employees and the COVID-19 Virus


The COVID-19 virus will affect everyone. The best way to slow down the infection and protect ourselves, our parents, and children is to avoid contact with other people as much as possible. This will mean that many people will be missing work, and maybe a pay check and health benefits. Here are some of the laws that may help:


Time Off for Illness


The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides that if your company has 50 or more employees (locally), you may be entitled to up to 12 weeks of UNPAID sick leave or leave for yourself, or to care for a new baby or an ill family member. (Online: www.dol.gov and click “Workers.”) You cannot be fired for taking leave protected by the Act.


Emergency Sick Leave and Pay


The Families First Coronavirus Response Act just passed the Congress and goes into effect on April 1, 2020. It applies to employers with less than 500 employees. Employers with fewer than 50 employees may be exempted from the requirements. Independent contractors are not considered employees for purposes of the 500-employee threshold.


Employers are required to provide paid sick leave and paid Family and Medical Leave to eligible employees who have worked at least 30 days before the impact of coronavirus.


Employers must provide up to 10 business days of paid sick leave. Any scheduled overtime must be included in the calculation. For a full-time employee, 10 business days equals 80 hours. For a part-time employee, the number of hours is equal to the average number of hours that employee works over a typical two-week period.


Employees in quarantine should be paid 100% of their pay up to a maximum of $511 per day, or a total of $5,100 for the 10 day leave period.


Employees who are caring for a quarantined family member or for childcare are allowed 100% of their pay up to a maximum of $200 per day, or a total of $2,000 for the 10 day period.


The bill also expands family and medical leave by giving workers the right to take up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave if the employee or a family member is in quarantine or if their child’s school or childcare is closed due to coronavirus. Employers are required to provide at least two-thirds of the usual pay, up to $200 per day, or a total of $10,000. Those provisions can apply after employees take the two weeks of emergency paid sick leave.


The law provides a “refundable” payroll tax credit for 100% of qualified paid sick leave wages paid by an employer, which can be used against the employer portion of Social Security payroll taxes. There is also a 100% of qualified family leave wages paid by an employer, which is also allowed against the employer portion of Social Security Payroll taxes.



Alabama Unemployment Compensation Benefits


Alabama Department of Labor has announced that employers will not be charged for their employees who file for unemployment compensation benefits due to the COVID-19 outbreak.  [1]


Based on current guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor, the Alabama Department of Labor is modifying existing unemployment compensation rules to allow workers to file a claim for unemployment compensation benefits who are affected in any of the following way:  [2]

 

  • Those who are quarantined by a medical professional or a government agency,
  • Those who are laid off or sent home without pay for an extended period by their employer due to COVID-19 concerns,
  • Those who are diagnosed with COVID-19,
  • Or, those who are caring for an immediate family member who is diagnosed with COVID-19.

 

The requirement that a laid-off worker be “able and available” to work while receiving unemployment compensation benefits has been modified for claimants who are affected by COVID-19 in any of the situations listed above. Additionally, claimants will also not have to search for other work provided they take reasonable steps to preserve their ability to come back to that job when the quarantine is lifted, or the illness subsides. The waiting week, which is typically the first week of compensate benefits, will also be waived.

 

Certain criteria and exceptions may apply and are subject to change. Verification of illness or quarantine may be required.

 

Workers can file for benefits online at www.labor.alabama.gov or by calling 1-866-234-5382. Online filing is encouraged.


   

Thank you to our volunteer attorney Henry Brewster and his staff for preparing this information. We will continue to work with Henry to keep this information as up-to-date as possible as this is an evolving situation. The contents of this website are provided for informational purposes only. It is purely a public resource of general information which is intended, but not promised or guaranteed, to be correct, complete, and up-to-date. This website is not intended to be legal advice and should not be construed as such. The use of this site does not create an attorney-client relationship. Anyone reading this should not rely on any information provided herein and should always seek the advice of competent counsel in your state. SAVLP and attorneys offering advice herewith expressly disclaims any and all liability with regard to actions taken or not taken based upon the content of this website/information. Attorneys providing advice herein are licensed attorneys in the State of Alabama. The information in this website is not directed at or intended to be received by anyone needing representation concerning any matter arising outside of the State of Alabama. Do not send SAVLP or any attorney any confidential information- no attorney client relationship is established by the information provided herein. Any accounts of past successes are not indicative of future results. Each case is unique and must be evaluated individually based upon the specific facts, circumstances and applicable law in that particular case. The outcome in any case is determined by numerous complex factors and their interaction, including but not limited to, the jurisdiction, venue, witnesses, parties, relevant factual evidence and the applicable law. The results obtained in previous cases do not guarantee or predict a similar result in future cases undertaken by that lawyer. No attorney can guarantee any client any particular outcome in any legal matter. Alabama Rule of Professional Conduct 7.2 requires the following disclaimer in all published communications regarding a lawyer’s services: “No representation is made that the quality of legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services to be performed by other lawyers.” This information is provided solely for informational purposes by an attorney volunteering their time to help the public better understand this public health crisis. 


 [1]  https://labor.alabama.gov/news_feed/News_Page.aspx


 [2]  https://labor.alabama.gov/news_feed/News_Page.aspx?id=201