Legal Lens: Are companies required to provide paid sick leave for COVID-19?

Legal Lens

The Brown & Crouppen Legal Lens takes a closer look at everyday legal issues and gives you a better understanding of topics that may affect you.

ST. LOUIS – With COVID-19 cases taking center stage again, people are curious as to how time off can affect their job. Andrea McNairy of Brown and Crouppen breaks it down with FOX 2’s Vic Faust in this week’s legal lens.

What kind of protections are out there for people from a legal standpoint?

“It’s a changing landscape,” said McNairy. “It changes day by day. A lot of protections that existed at the beginning of pandemic no longer exist. They have expired like the Families First Coronavirus Response Act that required paid medical leave for COVID sick time or Missouri’s pandemic order, which expired on Dec. 31 of the past year.”

If you get COVID and have to quarantine is the company required to pay for sick time?

“No. Those are part of provisions that expired back in 2020,” said McNairy. “Employers are only required to pay for sick time that they owe or what the employee has earned. If you get sick and you are out of sick time, they do not have to pay you. It is interesting that some employers do pay for covid sick time to keep the transmission out of the office.”

What if someone isn’t vaccinated and they get sick, needing care, does the employer have to pay it?

“As of now, insurance law requires they pay for it,” said McNairy. “That was a part of the Affordable Care Act. However, most private health insurance companies have stopped voluntarily waving co-pays for people who are unvaccinated, and we’re seeing employers charging more for premiums for people who are not vaccinated under the guise of health incentive programs for unvaccinated people.”

Are there any efforts to make people who are unvaccinated pay out of pocket?

“There are. Most recently in Illinois, a bill was introduced to require unvaccinated people to pay out of pocket,” said McNairy. “I haven’t seen one pass through yet, but several states are taking measures.”

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