Benefits for Occupational Therapist Workers Impacted by COVID-19

Benefits Occupational Therapist COVID-19


The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act) requires certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19.

What is it?

  • A federal act providing up to 80 hours of emergency paid leave that is available immediately to employees for COVID-19 related hardship.
  • Up to an additional 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay where an employee is unable to work due to a bona fide need for leave to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.
  • Based on certain criteria, some employers may be exempt.
  • However, some states and cities have adopted their own ordinances based on FFCRA which expands the coverage of FFCRA.

Which employers are covered?

  • On a federal level, hospitals (and therefore healthcare workers) may be exempt – making occupational therapists ineligible, BUT your state or local city may have an ordinance which expands FFCRA to make healthcare workers not exempt and are therefore eligible.
  • For example, if you live in the city of Los Angeles, unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County, San Francisco, or San Jose, you may be eligible for supplemental paid sick leave for COVID-19-related reasons if you are not covered by the FFCRA.
  • Do a google search for the city and state of your employer, e.g. “San Francisco FFCRA” or “San Francisco paid sick leave covid-19” to see if you qualify.

Qualifying Reasons for Leave

Under the FFCRA, an employee qualifies for paid sick time if the employee is unable to work (or unable to telework) due to a need for leave because the employee:

  1. is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
  2. has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19;
  3. is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
  4. is caring for an individual subject to an order described in (1) or self-quarantine as described in (2);
  5. is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) for reasons related to COVID-19; or
  6. is experiencing any other substantially-similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of Labor and Treasury.

Important Notes

  • Part-time employees are entitled to sick leave hours equal to the number of hours they work on average over a two-week period.
  • An employer cannot require an employee to find a replacement as a condition of using leave.
  • Employers may not require employees to use provided or accrued paid vacation, personal, medical, or sick leave before the paid sick leave. 
  • Employers may not require your employee to use such existing leave concurrently with the paid sick leave.
  • Employers may not terminate, reduce pay or otherwise discriminate against an employee for requesting to use sick leave, or otherwise exercising their rights under the ordinance.

Q & A


Additional Benefits to Consider

Benefits may be offered federally, by your state, your city, contracts from your employer with third-parties, or you may have purchased private insurance.

Ask your HR about your options and eligibility.

  • Disability Insurance
  • Paid Family Leave
  • Unemployment Insurance
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (or similar)
  • State Paid Sick Leave
  • Workers’ Compensation – you believe you had exposure at work and contracted COVID-19.

Additional Reading

  • Do a Google search for “covid-19 resources workers + [your state]” or [your city] for local resources.
  • Caring for someone who is quarantined at home? Read some tips here.
  • How does OT compare to other professions in exposure risk? Read more here.
  • Read about labor laws and general work “adulting” stuff here.
  • Interested in earning extra mine from a side-hustle? Check out some of our resources here.
Jeff is a licensed occupational therapist and lead content creator for OT Dude. He covers all things occupational therapy as well as other topics including healthcare, wellness, mental health, technology, science, sociology, and philosophy. Buy me a Coffee on Venmo.