March 29, 2020
Kentucky Protection & Advocacy (P&A) is the federally mandated state agency that protects and promotes the human and legal rights of individuals with disabilities. We write to you today to ask for clarification that family caregivers who need to take time to provide care for adults with disabilities because of day program or care provider closure, or unavailability of direct care workers due to COVID-19 are eligible for emergency paid sick leave under the Families First Act.
The Act provides paid sick leave to caregivers for those with the virus or advised to self-quarantine and caregivers who must take time to care for children because of school or child care provider closures. While it doesn't explicitly provide leave for caregivers of adults with disabilities and older adults in the event of a provider closure or care worker unavailability, it does extend paid leave to an "employee [who] is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor."
We ask that you work with the Secretaries of HHS and Treasury to ensure that caregivers of adults with disabilities are provided with paid leave in those circumstances. Just as children may no longer be able to attend school, many people with disabilities will also no longer be able to utilize their usual source of care. Family members who need to stay home in order to provide that care are workers that are, and will be, impacted by COVID-19 even if they or the one for whom they are caring are not directly infected with the virus or under a self-quarantine order. They should be provided with the same emergency paid leave that is being provided to other workers impacted by this crisis.
We also ask you to clarify that employees covered under section 5102(a)(2) of the Act which provides paid sick leave for employees who have "been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19" include employees who have been instructed by a health care provider to self-isolate during the coronavirus pandemic because of a pre-existing condition or illness.
Heidi Schissler Lanham