Port Arthur policy supplements Families First Coronavirus Response Act benefits

Published 12:10 am Thursday, April 16, 2020

The city of Port Arthur approved a policy that would supplement an additional one-third pay to its employees who are unable to telework due to the effects of coronavirus, or COVID-19.

Congress on April 1 enacted the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which covers up to an additional 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave at two-thirds of an employee’s regular rate of pay where an employee cannot work because he or she has to care for a child who cannot attend school or daycare due to COVID-19.

The employee must be given the benefit if he or she has been employed for at least 30 days, and the city’s new measure will cover the other one-third.

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City Attorney Val Tizeno said the sick leave is unpaid for the first 10 days before the 10 weeks of expanded leave applies.

The city’s ordinance will also supplement the Families First Coronavirus Response Act’s provision for two weeks, or up to 80 hours, of paid sick leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay because:

  • the employee cannot work in order to care for a quarantining individual or care for a child under age 18 who cannot attend school or daycare due to COVID-19, and/or
  • the employee is experiencing a “substantially similar condition” as specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

If an employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis, he or she will receive up to 80 hours of paid sick leave at the full regular rate of pay under the FFCRA.

The city council on Tuesday also expanded the limit of persons in a golf clubhouse at any point in time from three to five, to be consistent with county guidelines.

Port Arthur Mayor Thurman Bartie issued a third amendment to his “Stay at Home, Work Safe” emergency order, allowing the Babe Zaharias Municipal Golf Course to operate again provided that golfers observe safety stipulations to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The Babe was closed from April 8-13, but reopened after 172nd District Court Judge Mitch Templeton granted course operator Aquila Golf a restraining order preventing the city from interfering with course operations. The city owns the golf course.

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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