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Clearing up the confusion on COVID leave for postal workers

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Informational post by Ruralinfo.net

I am seeing a lot of confusion about the current state of COVID leave for postal workers.  I wanted to try to clear up the confusion

On April 1, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor announced new action regarding how American workers and employers will benefit from the protections and relief offered by the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act, both part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). (Click here for more information)

Generally, the Act provided that employees of covered employers are eligible for:

Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay where the employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis; or

Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay because the employee is unable to work because of a bona fide need to care for an individual subject to quarantine (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), or to care for a child (under 18 years of age) whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19, and/or the employee is experiencing a substantially similar condition as specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of the Treasury and Labor; and

Up to an additional 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay where an employee, who has been employed for at least 30 calendar days, is unable to work due to a bona fide need for leave to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.

That expired on December 31st, 2020 (link)

2021 01 02 at 6.44 PM

Basically, that was a use or lose COVID leave provision.

If you did not use it before December 31st, then you will not be able to use it.

 

However, the NRLCA and the USPS did extend their COVID MOUs which provide a little relief, but not to the extent of the FFCRA.

The National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association and United States Postal Service have mutually agreed to extend the Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) linked below through March 26, 2021:

NOTE: Regarding the MOU titled Temporary Paid Leave for Rural Carrier Associates, the extension provides Rural Carrier Associates the opportunity to utilize the 80 hours of paid leave provided in the original MOU, it does not provide an additional 80 hours.

 

The Liberal Changes of Schedule and Leave MOU was also extended until March 26th, 2021 – NRLCA – Liberal Changes of Schedule and Leave MOU Extended

 

This brings us up to the Clarification from David L Heather, NRLCA Director of Labor Relations which includes this language:

Any rural carrier who is no longer eligible for FFCRA Leave or has exhausted their FFCRA Leave, and is asked or required by USPS to quarantine due to COVID exposure will be compensated with Administrative Leave until cleared to return to work under the attached RTW Guidelines.

A regular rural carrier or PTF who is actually diagnosed with COVID-19, or showing symptoms, will have to use their own personal sick leave until their return to work under the attached RTW Guidelines. An RCA who is actually diagnosed with COVID-19, or showing symptoms, will have to use their own personal sick leave or the leave granted under the recently extended Paid Leave for RCAs MOU until their return to work under the attached RTW Guidelines. Read more

 

So in simple terms :

Regular Carriers and PTFs:

Any regular carrier who did not use leave from the FFCRA has lost their chance to use it.  If you are REQUIRED by the USPS to quarantine, they will pay administrative leave.

If you are diagnosed with COVID, or showing symptoms and the USPS does not REQUIRE you to quarantine, you will have to use your own leave until you return to work.

RCAs

An RCA who is actually diagnosed with COVID-19, or showing symptoms, will have to use their own personal sick leave, if any or the leave granted under the recently extended Paid Leave for RCAs MOU shown above, if not already used.

 

Why was this not extended?  Basically Congress did not extend it. The USPS could still provide it in exchange for tax relief, but they have chosen not to.

Many believed that the FFCRA’s sick and family leave provisions would be extended into 2021 as part of the pandemic relief package that was signed by the President on December 27. However, these provisions were ultimately not extended, meaning that employers will not be required to provide paid leave under the FFCRA after December 31, 2020.

Despite that the FFCRA’s leave provisions were not extended into 2021, the relief package extends the FFCRA tax credit, which reimburses employers for the cost of providing FFCRA leave, through March 31, 2021. As a result, beginning on January 1, 2021, employers are no longer required to provide FFCRA leave; however, covered employers who voluntarily offer such leave may utilize payroll tax credits to cover the cost of benefits paid to employees through the end of March.

So I tried to simplify all of the language a bit to make it easier to understand.  Hope it helps..

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