Q&A: We ran out of COVID paid sick time. What now?

Lora Patterson, HR Advisor at Zenefits
Jan 12, 2021

Under the 2020 CARES Act, the US Government provided for up to 10 days of paid sick time for people caring for themselves of family members quarantining or sick with COVID. But what happens in 2021 when that is tapped out, but individuals might need more time off?

If one of your employees already maxed out their COVID paid sick time in 2020 and needs to take leave again in 2021, what are your options to support them?

In this episode of POPS!, Lora Patterson, HR advisor at Zenefits, shares recommendations for navigating this situation by examining existing benefits and potentially creating a new leave of absence policy.

In this Q&A, you’ll hear:

  • Federal paid sick leave under the CARES Act
  • Leave of Absence
  • Short term disability

POPS Star Bio

Lora Patterson gets small business. In fact, she grew up helping out at her family’s two small businesses: cleaning cars at their auto dealership and working on the farm, which her parents saw as a good source of exercise and stress relief. Today, her role at Zenefits is also about helping small businesses strike a balance between building a foundation for People Operations and ensure regulatory compliance to fielding an array of questions about emerging—and often urgent—issues. When she’s not at work, Lora is a bibliophile with a gorgeous color-coded wall of books to prove it. She’s also an ardent traveler.

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Lora Patterson: What options are there for when someone maxes out their COVID paid sick time covered in the cares act.

Didi D’Errico: Welcome to POPS, the show that shows you how to shift from human resources, paperwork to people, operations for the new world of work. How by answering one question at a time, today to help us answer your question. Here’s Lora Patterson, HR Advisor of Zenefits. 

Lora Patterson: So, this is actually a question we get quite frequently. Um, we’ve had a lot of companies whose employees took their leaves earlier in the year in April and may and June. And now employees need that leave once again, starting fresh this year.

So some things that I’ve been recommending for companies is to look at existing benefits that you have. So if you do have, let’s say a short-term disability policy, your employees might be eligible for some sort of wage replacement, um, during an unpaid leave through the company. So I would recommend contacting your insurance company to see if that, if they’re eligible for it.

And if so, filing a claim so the employee can get that benefit. Um, something else that I recommend is for companies to really think about creating their own leave of absence policy. So that policy could be something along the lines of eligible employees, which you would, you would kind of dictate who’s eligible, will receive X amount of time and you can choose if it’s paid.

If it’s not paid, you’re going to pay it partially. It’s really up to you. But I think now’s the time for companies to see if that’s something they can even do at this point to provide that type of benefit for employees.

Didi D’Errico: Have a question for our experts: Click the link in the show notes, or if you’ve got other ideas and feedback about our show, send them to [email protected]

Previous Episodes

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Q&A: How do I prepare for minimum wage changes as my people move?

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Q&A: What’s the best strategy for when to update our handbook?

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About The People Ops Podcast

Every week, we share the decisions, struggles, and successes for keeping up with an evolving workforce and a changing workplace. No matter if you’ve been in HR or are just getting started, this combination of transformational stories with actionable ideas, as well as context on hot issues, keeps you up-to-date while answering the questions you didn’t even know you had.

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