As the New Year arrived, a few things departed and one of those was the special paid leave provision under Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The provision was intended to deter workplace spread of the dangerous virus and protect those who stayed home to quarantine or care for others.

The Temporary Rule was set April 1 by the U.S. Department of Labor under the Act to provide workers with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for reasons related to Covid-19. The Temporary Rule expired at midnight on Dec. 31.

Today, on the U.S. Department of Labor website you’ll find a note to say it has expired with a link that only takes you to information on what it was supposed to do and a few general notations about wage and hour law.

Message displayed on U.S. Department of Labor site.

Under the Act, up to 80 hours of paid time out of work for quarantine, illness or wait for a diagnosis was covered by law. It also provided for up to 80 hours of paid sick leave at two-thirds of pay if an employee was unable to work in order to care for a person in quarantine or a child when a school or childcare provider is closed because of the virus.

This means that employers and employees go back to the leave plans they had before the pandemic.

At this point, it’s important to note that all Coastal Georgia counties are seeing post-holiday spikes in positive test rates, ranging from 18.55% in Bryan County to 11.83% in Glynn County. These rates are marked increases over those in early fall. You can track state stats here.

So, if your child’s school closes or you’ve been exposed and have to quarantine until your test results return, you’ll have to telework — if possible — or take your regular vacation, sick leave or paid leave time. That’s that, unless your employer is benevolent or federal officials, whom you employ, decide to renew the rules as the virus continues to advance.

— Susan Catron