Sick Leave, Paid Time Off, and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

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A few things to remember if you're faced with having to lay off or furlough workers.

April 20, 2020
Garret Murai - California Construction Law Blog

Unemployment claims hit a historic high this past week as 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits. To give you some context, this is not only the highest number of unemployment claims ever filed, it is five times higher than the previous record of 695,000 unemployment claims in 1982.

Restaurants, hotels, airlines and other businesses have begun to layoff or furlough workers. According to a survey conducted by the Associated General Contractors of America this past week, 39% of respondents reported that project owners have halted or cancelled construction projects due to deteriorating economic conditions, 45% reported project delays or disruptions, and 23% reported supply chain disruptions.

While the construction industry likely won’t be impacted nearly to the same degree as the retail sector has, some involved in the construction industry may nevertheless be faced with the prospect of having to lay off or furlough workers as “shelter in place” orders are extended. If you’re faced with that situation here are a few things to remember:

Paid Sick Leave

Under California law, nearly all employers are required to provide paid sick leave to employees who work for 30 or more days in a given year. Paid sick leave can be used by an employee for illnesses, including COVID-19, the diagnosis, care, or treatment of existing health conditions, and preventative care for the employee or employee’s family member. The important thing to remember here is that use of paid sick leave is an employee’s choice. While an employer, concerned that an employee may have contracted COVID-19, may require that an employee not come to the office, the employer cannot force such an employee to use his or her paid sick leave. For more information, the California Labor Commissioner has created a webpage specific to COVID 19.

Mr. Murai may be contacted at


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