Know your rights: Paid sick days & paid leave during COVID-19

Many workers now have the right to job-protected paid sick days and/or paid leave under the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act. This federal program is in effect now through December 31, 2020.

Paid sick days

All workers at employers with fewer than 500 employees* have the right to paid sick days.

  • You can use this if you're: getting diagnosed or recovering from COVID-19, taking care of a sick or self-isolating family member**, or complying with public health recommendations.
  • How long does this last? Full-time employees are entitled to 10 days (80 hours). Part-time workers are entitled to the average number of hours they work over a 2-week period.
  • How much will you receive? If you're caring for yourself, you can receive your regular pay, up to $511/day ($5,110 total). If you're caring for family, you can receive 2/3 of your regular pay, up to $200/day ($2,000 total).
  • Notes: These paid sick days are in addition to employer’s own leave. Employers can’t require you to find a replacement worker.


Paid leave

Workers on the job 30+ days at employers covered by the Family Medical and Leave Act (FMLA)*** have the right to paid leave.

  • You can use this if you're: Unable to work because your child’s school or place of care is closed due to public health emergency.
  • How long does this last? You can receive 12 weeks paid leave. The first 10 days may be unpaid (but you can still receive pay through paid sick days).
  • How much will you receive? 2/3 of regular pay, up to $200 per day ($10,000 total).
  • Notes: Employers with less than 25 employees may be exempt from job protection requirements.


Is your keiki’s child care or school closed because of COVID-19?

If your employer has fewer than 500 employees or is a public sector employer, your employer is required to provide you with up to 12 weeks of job-protected, paid leave, at 2/3 your normal pay rate, up to $200 per day. However, if your employer has fewer than 50 employees, it may seek an exemption from the federal government.

What if I am undocumented?

Since workers receive the payments from their employer, undocumented workers may be able to access this resource. Paid sick days and emergency paid leave laws are based on your employment relationship regardless of immigration status.

How do employers pay for this?

Employers can receive reimbursable tax credits to pay for COVID-related paid sick days or emergency leave. The IRS states that employers should have the employee’s name, the dates of leave, a statement on the COVID-related reason the employee is requesting leave, and a statement that the employee is unable to work or telework because of COVID

The employer will also need to provide additional documentation based on wage calculations and any health plan expenses they are asking to be reimbursed.

Q&As courtesy Family Values @ Work.

Possible exemptions include healthcare workers and emergency responders. Employers with under 50 employees can seek an exemption

** Family includes: Child, domestic partner, parent, spouse, individual who is pregnant, senior citizen, individual with a disability or who has access or functional needs who is a sibling, grandparent, or next of kin.

*** Possible exemptions include healthcare workers and emergency responders.


More resources

Paid Sick Days & Paid Leave through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Workers’ Rights: Questions and Answers
Coronavirus Paid Sick Days, Emergency Paid Leave, and Unemployment Insurance

Decision Chart
What are you eligible for?

Legal Aid Society of Hawaiʻi
Phone intake (weekdays)
9:00 AM - 11:30 AM
1:00 PM - 3:30 PM
808-536-4302 (Oahu)
​1-800-499-4302 (Neighbor Islands)

State of Hawaiʻi Dept. of Human Resources Development
Paid sick days
Paid leave

Enforcement Questions

Other Local COVID-19 Resources
Info on food, child care, face masks, and more.

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