COVID-19 and Your Workplace Rights: Caring for Yourself and Your Family

If you have to take time off work sick or your workplace closes down, what are your legal rights? If your child’s school is closed, can you stay home? We’re updating this page with all the information you need to know about ongoing action and your existing legal rights around paid sick time and paid family and medical leave.

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If you or a loved one is sick with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) or under an isolation or quarantine order, what are your legal rights? If your child’s school is closed, can you stay home? We’re updating this page with all the information you need to know about your legal rights around paid sick time and paid family and medical leave, as well as ongoing legislative action.

Coronavirus-specific laws:

Other laws that can help:

Regular FMLA protections may apply if you or a covered family member are sick.

If you are a worker with a disability, you may have rights under the Americans with Disability Act. Here’s some information about your employer’s obligations during a pandemic:

13 states, Washington D.C., and dozens of localities guarantee workers a right to paid sick time. ‘Closure provisions‘ in the laws in many jurisdictions also enable workers to stay home to protect their health and their families during times of public health emergencies.

For the full list of permanent paid sick time laws and an FAQ on each law, see below.


*laws have ‘closure provisions’ that enable you to use paid sick time when your workplace or child’s school is closed

Counties & Cities:

*laws have ‘closure provisions’ that enable you to use paid sick time when your workplace or child’s school is closed

Note: Three cities in Texas—Austin,  Dallas, and San Antonio—have passed paid sick leave ordinances that are not currently in effect due to pending court challenges

To compare the statewide and local paid sick time laws above, please see A Better Balance’s interactive and customizable comparison chart.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, states, cities, and counties throughout the U.S. have acted to protect workers affected by the virus by enacting emergency paid sick leave policies.

On March 18, New York State passed an emergency paid sick time law—an effort we were proud to help leadOur fact sheet on New York State’s Emergency Paid Sick Leave Legislation is available here.

On June 15, Colorado passed a paid sick time law for both permanent paid sick time and public health emergency leave. ABB worked on the ground in Colorado on bill drafting and played a key role in its passage. Our fact sheet on Colorado’s Paid Sick Leave Law is available here.

For more updates on emergency paid sick leave laws, orders, and measures around the country, please see our chart here.

9 states and Washington, D.C. have enacted paid family and medical leave laws. These laws may enable you to take longer-term, job-protected paid leave to care for a seriously ill loved one or your own medical condition when affected by COVID-19. 

To learn more about these rights, visit our Comparative Chart of Paid Family and Medical Leave Laws in the United States.

Update, December 2020: Federal emergency paid leave protections expire on December 31. We are urgently calling on Congress to extend and expand paid leave in the next COVID relief package. Read our statement and join us in taking action

We have been working with Congress so they can take immediate action on the federal level to enact paid sick leave and paid family and medical leave for all workers.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) was signed into law on March 18 and will go into effect on April 1, 2020. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) was passed by Congress on March 27 and will provide important additional protections, including rights that go into effect immediately. To learn more, our fact sheet on the FFCRA & the CARES Act is available here.

The laws provide for 10 paid sick days for covered workers who are sick from the coronavirus, quarantined, affected by closures or caring for a close family member who is sick, quarantined or affected by school or place of care closures, and it provides 12 weeks of partial wage replacement when a child’s school or place of care has been closed, or child care is unavailable, due to COVID-19. In addition, the laws provide several new or expanded rights to unemployment insurance benefits, including a special Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, to provide wage replacement to workers (including self-employed and freelance workers) not working as a result of the crisis.  This is the first time there has been a national law granting paid sick time or paid family leave for workers, and we worked with Congress on these important supports for America’s workers.

Read our statement on the FFCRA here, and see here for the full act. Read our statement on the CARES Act here, and find out more about the new unemployment provisions here.

But, as stories from callers to our free legal helpline show, too many workers are left excluded from this critical protection, and the law expires on December 31, 2021. We are continuing to push for the HEROES Act, which would expand coverage to employees of businesses with more than 500 employees and to healthcare workers, emergency responders, and small business employees left out or under-protected under current law.

The Ongoing Push for Permanent National Paid Sick Time & Paid Leave Rights

We are proud to be longtime leaders in the push for passage of the Healthy Families Act, which would create a permanent, nationwide right to seven days of paid sick leave, and the FAMILY Act, which would create a permanent right to three months of paid family and medical leave. All workers need time to care for themselves and their loved ones, and not just during times of crisis.


FACT SHEET: The Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the CARES Act

  • In addition to our fact sheet, the full Families First Coronavirus Response Act is available here, U.S. Department of Labor regulatory information is available here, and U.S. Department of Labor FAQS are available here.

We are working with states across the country as they seek to enact emergency paid sick time to address this crisis. We will update this page with information about those laws are they are enacted.

We have also developed key principles and model emergency sick time laws that could help address access to sick time in your jurisdiction:

We have also developed a blueprint for state and local governments in the South to protect the health and economic security of workers and families:

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