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    Benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program Available to Employees Who Have Symptoms or are Ill with the Coronavirus

    May 4, 2020 Jennifer Barrera General

    As a part of his roadmap to reopening the economy, California Governor Newsom recently raised the issue of a wage replacement mandate on businesses for employees who are sick with Covid-19 symptoms, to encourage them not to come to work. As we have previously stated, the private sector cannot be the safety net for this crisis, that is the role of government.  Employers in California are also victims of the pandemic.  Shifting the financial burden of this virus onto the private sector will exacerbate the harm suffered by businesses and could prevent them from reopening and rehiring their workers.

    What’s more, in this case, the federal government is already paying to compensate workers who have gotten ill from Covid-19.

    As a part of the federal Coronavirus Relief Act (CARES Act) passed on March 27, 2020, the federal government approved a fund called Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).  The purpose of this fund was to provide equivalent benefits to individuals not entitled to unemployment insurance, like independent contractors or business owners who have suffered a pandemic-related loss of revenue. But what has not been widely known or reported is that the PUA also provides benefits for employees who still have a job yet have been affected by Covid-19.

    Specifically, Section 2102 of the CARES Act provides wage replacement benefits to five categories of employees:  (1) employees who are diagnosed with Covid-19; (2) employees who are experiencing symptoms of Covid-19; (3) an employee who has a family member who has been diagnosed with Covid-19 and is the caregiver; (4) an employee who is the primary caregiver for a child who cannot attend school or a child care provider because of Covid-19; or (5) an employee who cannot get to the physical location of work because of a quarantine imposed due to Covid-19.

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