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NAPO addresses COVID-19 sick leave for emergency responders, need-based use of emergency funding

Posted by: jgomori Posted date: April 3, 2020

NAPO’s Director of Governmental Affairs Andy Edmiston shared the following details about two issues NAPO  is working on regarding recently passed COVID-19 response provisions.

The first concerns how the federal government is implementing the new coronavirus-related paid sick leave policy passed as part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and its impact on first responders, Edmiston wrote in an email to members. The second regards the allocation of the $850 million in Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding through the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne JAG) program.


On April 1, the United States Department of Labor (DOL) issued temporary rules regarding the implementation of the FFCRA, the second coronavirus stimulus that was signed into law on March 18. This bill provides for an additional 80 hours of sick leave related to COVID-19 exposure and illness. However, in the rules just released, the DOL included a sick leave exemption for “emergency responders”, which includes law enforcement. The DOL regulations allow first responder organizations to opt out of the 80 hours of COVID-related paid sick leave. NAPO is concerned that officers will have to use their own sick or personal leave when they are directed to stay home by their supervisors to quarantine or isolate themselves due to possible exposure to COVID-19.

The reasoning for this exemption (on page 36 of the attached rule) is that the DOL wants to ensure that localities are still able to provide the essential service of public safety and have enough officers to do so. While this might make sense for a temporary expansion of the Family and Medical Leave Act, it is meaningless in the context of paid sick leave. Emergency responders are going to contract COVID-19 and they are going to be exposed to people who have COVID-19, increasing the chance that the employer will likely order them quarantined and they will not be at work. The sole question is not whether the employer’s staffing will be lowered – it will – but rather who is going to pay for the employee’s absence. Under the DOL rule, it will be the employee paying for it and not the employer. It does not make sense that law enforcement officers who are in the line of fire – many without proper PPE or any at all – are penalized for something out of their control.

NAPO is working with Congressional staff to fix this issue so that should any law enforcement agency order an employee home and not allow them to return to work due to potential COVID-19 exposure, the employer will provide up to 80 hours of paid time off and it will not be taken from the employee’s accrued personal leave. In the House, we are working with Democratic staff who are actively putting together a proposed Phase 4 stimulus package. While Republicans, particularly Senate Republicans, are pushing back against the need for a Phase 4 bill, we are also working with our allies in the Senate to move this fix – whether in a Phase 4 bill or some other legislative vehicle.

Please let me know if any of your members have faced this issue – that they are being ordered home due to a possible COVID-19 exposure and having to use their own personal leave.


The Bureau of Justice Assistance has released the list of eligible allocations for CESF for current (FY 19) Byrne JAG grantees. The allocations were determined by the Byrne JAG program standard formula. There are many issues with these allocations as they are not based on need during this crisis, but rather an arbitrary formula that is meant to fund state and local criminal justice programs. Please reach out to your state or local grantee listed to request CESF funding for PPE and other emergency resources. For those localities without current funding, BJA has set aside $58 million in grant funding. NAPO is working with Congress to ensure state and local agencies get the resources they need whether from the $850 million in CESF, the $48 billion in FEMA Disaster Funding or an additional pot of funding that allows localities and agencies get direct access to funds.

Go to the BJA website to apply for CESF grant money and for more information.

Contact Andy Edmiston if you have any questions on either of these two issues at [email protected]

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