In March 2020, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The FFCRA provided 80 hours of emergency paid sick leave for state employees who had COVID-19 or needed to quarantine. Additionally, the FFCRA allowed for access to Emergency Family Medical Leave (eFMLA) for state employees that needed to care for a child during a school closure. The FFCRA authorized these leaves through December 31, 2020.
In April 2020, the US Department of Labor issued guidance that allowed the State to exempt a number of essential employees from accessing emergency paid sick leave or eFMLA. Almost 70% of NAPE members became ineligible for FFCRA leave under the DOL guidance.
NAPE was able to negotiate with the State to add “COVID Administrative Leave” to out contract. This leave allowed NAPE members access to 80 hours of paid leave if they became infected with COVID or had to quarantine. COVID Administrative Leave was agreed to through December 31, 2020 to mirror the FFCRA.
During November and December, NAPE watched and lobbied Congress to extend the emergency leave provisions of the FFCRA. Congress refused to extend the leave benefits beyond December 31. NAPE turned our attention to the Governor to attempt to extend the COVID Administrative Leave through June 30, 2021. The Governor declined to extend COVID Administrative Leave for state employees.
Instead, NAPE was offered a “take it or leave it” final offer from the State. NAPE members will be able to access up to 80 hours of emergency sick leave if they become infected with COVID-19 or need to quarantine, but only if they have exhausted all of their own earned sick leave and have not previously accessed 80 hours of emergency COVID Administrative Leave.
While this “take it or leave it” offer is unacceptable, it will be available through June 30, 2021. Our elected officials have once again let down essential public service workers who continue to report for duty and perform essential functions under the most difficult conditions.
If you find yourself in need of assistance because you are COVID positive or need to quarantine, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please contact your elected officials, and let them know that they failed to protect essential public employees.
Governor Pete Ricketts
P.O. Box 94848, Lincoln, NE 68509-4848
Sen. Deb Fischer
454 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510
(202) 224-6551, www.fischer.senate.gov
Sen. Ben Sasse
136 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510
(202) 224-4224, http://www.sasse.senate.gov
Representative Jeff Fortenberry – 01
1514 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515-2701
(202) 225-4806, www.fortenberry.house.gov
Representative Don Bacon – 02
1516 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-4155, https://bacon.house.gov/
Representative Adrian Smith – 03
320 Cannon House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515-2703
(202) 225-6435, https://adriansmith.house.gov/