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Employees Who Are Working or Teleworking

Page last updated April 14, 2020 - 12:30 p.m.

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1. What is the federal Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA)?

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EPSLA is a new law aimed at reducing the economic impact of COVID-19 on workers and their families by providing eligible employees with up to ten (10) days of emergency paid sick leave. The provisions of EPSLA go into effect April 1, 2020 and apply to COVID-19-related leave taken between April 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020. 

2. Who is eligible for emergency paid sick leave?

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Employees, on their first day of employment with the Commonwealth, may be eligible for emergency paid sick leave under EPSLA, if the employee is unable to work, including unable to telework, because:  

a. The employee is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19; or

b. The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19; or

c. The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis; or

d. The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to an order as described in paragraph (a) or has been advised to self-quarantine as described in paragraph (b), above; or

e. The employee is caring for a son or daughter of such employee if the school or place of care of the son or daughter has been closed, or the childcare provider of such son or daughter is unavailable, due to COVID–19 precautions; or

f. The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the U.S. Secretaries of Labor and Treasury.

​3.  If I telework, am I eligible for emergency paid sick leave? 

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​If an employee who is teleworking becomes unable to telework based upon a qualifying event, the employee may be eligible for emergency paid sick leave so long as the employee’s qualifying event actually prevents the employee from being able to telework.  

​4. Does the 'Stay at Home' order issued by the Governor make me eligible for emergency paid sick leave?

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​No. The ‘Stay at Home’ order is not a qualifying event for employees who are working or teleworking.  An employee must have a qualifying event due to COVID-19 that actually prevents the employee from being able to work or telework. 

5. ​How much emergency paid sick leave is available for full-time employees? 

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Full-time employees, defined as those who work forty (40) hours per week, are eligible for up to ten (10) days (80 hours) of emergency paid sick leave.

6. How much emergency paid sick leave is available for part-time employees?

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​Part-time employees, defined as those who work less than forty (40) hours per week, are eligible for up to ten (10) days of emergency paid sick leave. Part-time employees are entitled to leave for their average number of normally worked hours in a two-week period. 

If the normal scheduled hours are unknown, or vary in a two-week period, the number of hours of leave to which a part-time employee is entitled shall be determined based on a six (6)-month average of daily hours.  

If the employee has been employed for less than six (6) months, the number of hours shall be determined based on the average daily hours from the date of hire through the last workday prior to the first day of emergency paid sick leave. For example, if a part-time employee normally works, on average, 25 hours per week, the employee would be eligible for up to 50 hours of leave under EPSLA.

7. I work 37.5 hours per week for a total of 75 hours every two (2) weeks, am I considered a full-time or part-time employee?

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​For purposes of EPSLA, you are considered a part-time employee. However, since your normally scheduled work hours for a two-week period are 75 hours, you are eligible for up to 75 hours of leave at the rate of reimbursement provided for under EPSLA. 

8. What is the rate of reimbursement for emergency paid since leave taken under EPSLA?

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​If you are taking leave for one of the qualifying events outlined in a. through c. in question 2, above, payment is at your regular rate of pay, up to $511 per day and $5,110 in total.

If you are taking leave for one of the qualifying events outlined in d. through f. in question 2, above, payment is at 66.67% of your regular rate of pay, up to $200 per day and $2,000 in total. 

​9. When can I use emergency paid sick leave?

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​When there is a qualifying event under a. through f. in question 2 above, beginning April 1, 2020, but not after December 31, 2020. Paid emergency sick leave under EPSLA does NOT carryover from one year to the next and expires on December 31, 2020.

​10. Who is an “individual”?

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​An individual is defined as an employee’s immediate family member, a person who regularly resides in the employee’s home, or a similar person with whom the employee has a relationship that created an expectation that the employee would care for them if he or she self-quarantined or was quarantined.

11. Can I use emergency paid sick leave intermittently?

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​No. Leave under EPSLA may not be taken on an intermittent basis, except for child care.

12. Can I use emergency paid sick leave before I use my other paid leave, such as annual leave? 

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Yes, as long as you are eligible because of a qualifying event listed in question 2, above.  Emergency paid sick leave under EPSLA is a separate paid leave entitlement from your accrued or anticipated annual, personal, sick, combined or accrued compensatory leave. You are not required to use other paid leave before using the ten (10) days of emergency paid sick leave under EPSLA.

13. Do I need a doctor’s note or other documentation to use emergency paid sick leave?

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​Yes.  For qualifying events a. through d. and f. in question 2, above, notice of quarantine or isolation orders, or doctor’s recommendations should be provided. 

For qualifying event e. in question 2, above, documentation could include notice of closure by the  school, place of care, or childcare provider, or such notice that may have been posted on a government, school, or day care website, published in a newspaper, or emailed to you from an employee or official of the school, place of care, or childcare provider.

14. How do I request emergency paid sick leave? 

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​If you normally submit leave through Employee Self-Service (ESS) at www.MyWorkplace.state.pa.us, you should follow your normal procedures for requesting leave.

While EPSLA leave is available beginning April 1, 2020, the leave codes for EPSLA leave will be available in ESS beginning on April 6, 2020. 

The leave code “ES” is to be used when the qualifying event for leave is based on a., b., or c., in question 2, above. 

The leave code “ESA” is to be used when the qualifying event for leave is based on f. in question 2, above. 

15. Who approves my request for emergency paid sick leave?

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​Supervisors will provisionally approve these leave requests. Supervisors, employees and agency Time Advisors should forward required documentation to the HR Service Center, FMLA Services for further review.

Address: HR Service Center – FMLA Services, PO Box 824, Harrisburg, PA 17108-0824

Fax: 717-425-5389


16. Is emergency paid sick leave retirement-covered? 

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​No. Any payments made pursuant to EPSLA are not retirement-covered compensation under the State Employees’ Retirement Code.

17. Where can I learn more about leave under EPSLA? 

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​Information from the U.S. Department of Labor on EPSLA is available at: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic.

18. What is the federal Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA or Expanded FMLA)?

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​EFMLEA amends the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to provide up to 12 weeks of leave, the first two (2) weeks of which are unpaid, to eligible employees who are caring for their son or daughter  because the child’s school or daycare is closed, or the childcare provider is unavailable due to COVID-19.  

A “son or daughter” is defined as your own child, which includes your biological, adopted, or foster child, your stepchild, a legal ward, or a child for whom you are standing in loco parentis—someone with day-to-day responsibilities to care for or financially support a child. This definition also includes an adult son or daughter (i.e., one who is 18 years of age or older), who (1) has a mental or physical disability, and (2) is incapable of self-care because of that disability.

19. If I use emergency paid sick and Expanded FMLA leave under FFCRA because my son or daughter’s school or daycare is closed, will the emergency paid sick leave and Expanded FMLA leave count towards the standard 12 week FMLA entitlement?

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​Yes.

20. Who is eligible for Expanded FMLA?

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​An individual who has been employed by the Commonwealth for at least thirty (30) calendar days and is unable to work or telework due to a need to care for a son or daughter because the child’s school or place of care has been closed, or the childcare provider is unavailable due to COVID-19.

21. How much will I be paid when taking leave under Expanded FMLA?

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It depends. The first two weeks of this leave are unpaid. However, employees may elect to substitute emergency paid sick leave, or accrued or anticipated annual, or accrued compensatory leave. The remaining ten (10) weeks of leave will be paid at 66.67% of the employee’s regular rate of pay, up to $200 per day or $10,000 in total. 

22. How much leave is available under Expanded FMLA? 

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Eligible employees are entitled to up to twelve (12) workweeks for Expanded FMLA; but it is not an additional 12 week entitlement, rather it is part of the employee’s overall FMLA entitlement which is reduced by any other traditional FMLA leave used in the previous 12 month period. This also means the 12 workweeks for Expanded FMLA will run concurrently with and reduce the overall FMLA entitlement. 

23. When can I use leave under Expanded FMLA? 

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An eligible employee may use available Expanded FMLA beginning on April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020. Expanded FMLA shall end once the employee’s twelve (12) workweeks of FMLA/Expanded FMLA is exhausted, or when the qualifying need related to the public health emergency ends, whichever is earlier.

24. Can I use Expanded FMLA leave intermittently?

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​Yes. However, Expanded FMLA leave must be used in full day increments and may be taken on an intermittent basis, at the employer’s discretion, subject to management’s responsibility to maintain the efficiency of operations. Additionally, absences must be prescheduled and employees cannot call off unless it is an emergency situation, which will be reviewed by FMLA Services for a determination.

25. Can I use other leave, such as annual leave, instead of Expanded FMLA leave?

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Yes, as long as you are eligible for Expanded FMLA leave. If you elect to use accrued or anticipated annual or accrued compensatory leave instead of Expanded FMLA leave, such leave will run concurrently with and reduce the overall twelve (12) week FMLA/EFMLEA entitlement.  

26. Do I need documentation to use Expanded FMLA?

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​Yes. Documentation could include notice of closure by the school, place of care, or childcare provider, or such notice that may have been posted on a government, school, or day care website, published in a newspaper, or emailed to you from an employee or official of the school, place of care, or childcare provider.

27. How do I request Expanded FMLA leave?

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If you normally submit leave through Employee Self-Service (ESS) at www.MyWorkplace.state.pa.us, ​follow your normal procedures for requesting leave. While Expanded FMLA leave is available beginning April 1, 2020, the  leave code “ECC” for Expanded FMLA leave will be available in ESS beginning in mid-April.

28. Who approves my request for Expanded FMLA leave?

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Supervisors will provisionally approve these leave requests. 

Supervisors, employees and agency Time Advisors should forward required documentation to the HR Service Center, FMLA Services for further review.

Address: HR Service Center – FMLA Services, PO Box 824, Harrisburg, PA 17108-0824

Fax: 717-425-5389
Email: ra-oaspfabsence@pa.gov

29. Is Expanded FMLA retirement-covered?

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​No. Any payments made pursuant to EFMLEA are not retirement-covered compensation under the State Employees’ Retirement Code.

30. Where can I learn more about Expanded FMLA under the EFMLEA?

Information from the U.S. Department of Labor on Expanded FMLA is available at: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic.


31. Am I required to use leave if I am in quarantine, self-quarantine or isolation due to potential exposure to COVID-19 or potential or confirmed COVID-19 infection? 

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Employees, who were working (or teleworking) and who were quarantined, self-quarantined or in isolation due to potential exposure to COVID-19 before April 11, 2020, may be entitled to up to ten (10) days of Administrative Leave even if such leave period extends beyond April 11, 2020. 

Employees, who are working (or teleworking) and who are quarantined, self-quarantined or in isolation due to potential exposure to COVID-19 on or after April 11, 2020, may be eligible for emergency paid sick (ES) leave pursuant to the federal Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA). Use of Administrative Leave is NOT available for absences beginning on or after April 11, 2020.

32. Am I required to use leave if I am caring for an individual subject to a quarantine, self-quarantine or isolation order due to potential exposure to COVID-19, or potential or confirmed COVID-19 infection?

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Employees, who were working (or teleworking), and who were caring for an individual subject to a  quarantine, self-quarantine or isolation order due to potential exposure to COVID-19, or potential or confirmed COVID-19 infection, and the care began before April 11, 2020, may be entitled to up to ten (10) days of Administrative Leave even if such leave period extends beyond April 11, 2020. 

Employees, who are working (or teleworking) and who begin such care on or after April 11, 2020, may be eligible for emergency paid sick (ES) leave pursuant to the EPSLA. Use of Administrative Leave is NOT available for absences beginning on or after April 11, 2020.

33. If I elect to use my own leave, must I use paid leave?

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No.  Employees who are teleworking or working and have a qualifying event due to COVID-19 can elect to use paid or unpaid leave.   

Employees who elect to use unpaid leave are encouraged to review their pay statements and consider the impact on their net pay.  All payroll deductions, including health care and voluntary payroll deductions, will be taken each pay period. Employees who would like to stop any payroll deductions should contact the HR Service Center at 866.377.2672.  

Employees of the LCB, Attorney General, PGCB, Auditor General and all other agencies not under the Governor's jurisdiction should contact their local HR office for assistance. 


34. I am working or teleworking a reduced schedule, must I use leave for the time not worked?  

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Yes. Employees who are working a reduced schedule due to COVID-19 must use paid or unpaid leave for time not worked.   

Employees who elect to use unpaid leave are encouraged to review their pay statements and consider the impact on their net pay.  All payroll deductions, including health care and voluntary payroll deductions will be taken each pay period.  Employees who would like to stop any deductions should contact the HR Service Center at 866.377.2672.  

Employees of the LCB, Attorney General, PGCB, Auditor General and all other agencies not under the Governor's jurisdiction should contact their local HR office for assistance.

35. Can I apply for unemployment compensation if I am working a reduced schedule?

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As a Commonwealth employee, you have the option of using paid or unpaid leave while working a reduced scheduled.  Depending on your specific circumstances, if you elect to use paid leave during all or part of a week, it may impact the amount of unemployment compensation you may receive.  You can find more information at www.uc.pa.gov.

When deciding whether to use your available paid leave or instead file for unemployment compensation, please keep in mind that paid leave is available immediately to you. It typically takes 2 - 4 weeks to begin to receive unemployment compensation benefits.

36. Do I need to use all my paid leave before applying for unemployment compensation?

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​No, Commonwealth employees do not need to use their paid leave before applying for unemployment compensation.  

​37. Will commonwealth health care coverage continue for employees while they are receiving unemployment compensation? How will employee health care costs be paid while employees are on unemployment compensation? Will health care benefits continue uninterrupted when employees return to commonwealth employment? 

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​While the Office of Administration does not make unemployment compensation determinations, we can tell you that health care coverage will continue for employees while they are receiving unemployment compensation benefits, provided they continue to pay their employee contributions.  Employees who are on an unpaid absence for greater than one full pay period will receive a monthly invoice from the Pennsylvania Employees Benefits Trust Fund (PEBTF).  Payments must be made directly to the PEBTF by the due date to continue coverage.  You can continue to use the same identification cards.

​38. Are employees required to use a certain amount of paid leave each pay period to retain their health care benefits? 

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​No. However, employees who elect to use paid and unpaid leave within the same pay period are encouraged to review their pay statements and consider the impact on their net pay.  All payroll deductions, including health care and voluntary payroll deductions, will be taken each pay period.  If you have any questions regarding your deductions, please contact the HR Service Center at 866.377.2672.

​39. How does unemployment compensation affect my retirement? Will money be withheld for retirement while on unemployment compensation? 

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​Employees who elect to use unpaid leave and receive unemployment compensation will not receive retirement credit under the State Employees’ Retirement Code for that time. Please contact SERS for more information. 

​40. Will I lose my seniority if I chose to take a leave without pay (LWOP) with benefits absence?  Will people with less seniority continue to accrue seniority if they choose to use paid leave?

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​Employees who elect to use unpaid leave will not receive seniority credit for those hours.  However, no employee will “lose” accrued seniority credit.  Employees who elect to use paid leave will receive seniority credit for those hours.

​41. What if unemployment compensation determines I am not eligible for benefits?  Can I go back and change the unpaid absences to paid leave at that point? 

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​While the Office of Administration does not make unemployment compensation determinations, we can tell you that requests to use paid leave on a retroactive basis are considered with proof of the unemployment compensation denial.

42. If I receive COVID-19 unemployment compensation, will I still be covered under FMLA or does that coverage end? 

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​If you are currently not working due to an FMLA absence, according to the Department of Labor and Industry, Office of Unemployment Compensation, if you are not able to work when work is available to you, you are generally not eligible for unemployment compensation.  Your eligibility will depend on whether the facts that you had good cause for not working.  These determinations are made by the Department of Labor and Industry, Office of Unemployment Compensation.   

43. How do I get my wage and date of hire information to file for unemployment compensation? 

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​Please call the HR Service Center at 866.377.2672 from 7:30 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday. 

44. Am I guaranteed to not lose my job while using FMLA-designated leave? Does applying for unemployment compensation forfeit my position with the Commonwealth? Am I less likely to be called back to work if I am on unemployment compensation?

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Receiving unemployment compensation will have no impact on an employee’s continued employment status once the Governor’s State of Emergency due to COVID-19 is lifted and offices are reopened. 

45. What commonwealth positions are not eligible for unemployment compensation (exempt)? 

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​Employees who are exempt from unemployment compensation received a notice when they were hired.  Employees can review their most recent pay statement under “Taxes.”  Employees who are not eligible for unemployment compensation will NOT have a deduction for “TX EE Unemployment Tax.”  Employees who have this deduction are eligible to file a claim for unemployment compensation.  

46. I'm filing my initial unemployment compensation claim and I’m being asked for my "Employer Unemployment Compensation Account Number.”  Where can I obtain this?    

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​You may obtain this number from the HR Service Center at 866.377.2672 from 7:30 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday.  

47. Can I apply for unemployment compensation in advance of starting leave without pay (LWOP) with benefits so there is no gap in my income? 

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​According to the Department of Labor and Industry, Office of Unemployment Compensation, you should file for unemployment compensation the first week that your income is reduced.  Do not apply in anticipation of beginning LWOP, because your claim may be denied or delayed.

48. If work is offered to me, and I turn it down in favor of leave without pay (LWOP) with benefits, does that disqualify me from collecting unemployment compensation? 

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​According to the Department of Labor and Industry, Office of Unemployment Compensation, if you refuse to work when work is available to you and you are able to perform that work, you are generally not eligible for unemployment compensation.  Your eligibility will depend on whether the facts of your refusal demonstrate that you had good cause for turning down work.  These determinations are made by the Department of Labor and Industry, Office of Unemployment Compensation.   

49. If the unemployment compensation approval process is prolonged – 3 or 4 weeks – am I able to switch back to paid leave if I need money? 

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​According to Department of Labor and Industry, Office of Unemployment Compensation, if you have established a claim, you must report the paid leave wages, which will reduce the amount of unemployment compensation benefits you may receive in that week.  If those wages exceed your partial benefits credit, you will not be eligible for unemployment compensation for that week.   

​50. What date should I use for my unemployment compensation application - the date when paid leave for office closings (POC) due to COVID-19 ended (April 10) or the date I will receive my last paycheck? 

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​According to the Department of Labor and Industry, Office of Unemployment Compensation, you should file for unemployment compensation the first week your income was reduced, i.e., the date the POC ended.  You must report any wages that you receive. 

51. Can I use paid leave while waiting for a unemployment compensation determination? 

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​As directed by the Department of Labor and Industry, Office of Unemployment Compensation, if you have established a claim, you must report the paid leave wages, which will reduce the amount of unemployment compensation benefits you may receive.  If those wages exceed your partial benefits credit, you will not be eligible for unemployment compensation that week.   

​52. The unemployment compensation application asks for a reason, but this isn't technically a layoff so do what I put as the reason?

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​You should select “lack of work.” Do not select “other.” It may delay the processing of your claim.

​53. Can I apply for unemployment compensation while on call for emergency duty?

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​If your hours have been reduced, then you may file for unemployment compensation for the reduction in hours, but you must report any wages that you receive.