Author: Hoffman & Forde

Can a Real Estate Attorney Represent Both Buyer and Seller?

What happens when both the buyer and the seller of a real estate transaction approach the same lawyer? Can a real estate attorney represent both parties? The answer is a little more nuanced than a “yes” or a “no.”

Attorneys have responsibilities to their clients both present and former. In handling a legal matter, they have to identify any conflicts of interest so they can best advocate for their clients. These conflicts include identifying the attorney’s potential personal interests and any conflicts among the clients involved. When it comes to real estate transactions, attorneys have to keep information about the case confidential and representing both buyer and seller in a transaction can divide the attorney’s loyalty, and inhibit their ability to serve their clients well.

Considering the relationship between clients and lawyers ensures that lawyers follow rules and ethics standards set forth by the American Bar Association and the State Bar.

In the event that an attorney is retained by multiple parties in a related case, such as a real estate transaction, a conflict waiver may apply.

Conflict Waivers

Rule 3-310 of the California Rules of Professional Responsibility addresses joint representation in transactions. The San Diego County Bar Association is helpful in this matter (emphases added):

“[An attorney] shall not, without the informed written consent of each client:  (1) Accept representation of more than one client in a matter in which the interests of the clients potentially conflict; or (2) Accept or continue representation of more than one client in a matter in which the interests of the clients actually conflict; or (3) Represent a client in a matter and at the same time in a separate matter accept as a client a person or entity whose interest in the first matter is adverse to the client in the first matter.”

There are some obvious cases in which the attorney cannot represent both parties, such as the defendant and prosecutor. In real estate transactions, if an attorney is retained by both buyer and seller, the ABA gives this specific example:

“Directly adverse conflicts can also arise in transactional matters. For example, if a lawyer is asked to represent the seller of a business in negotiations with a buyer represented by the lawyer, not in the same transaction but in another, unrelated matter, the lawyer could not undertake the representation without the informed consent of each client.”

This “informed consent of each client” is the conflict waiver. Before obtaining a waiver, the attorney must identify all possible conflicts in a case and if the case cannot be waived, a waiver should not be pursued. Instead, the attorney should decline representation given the conflicts. With real estate transactions, an attorney would ideally represent only the buyer or seller unless it’s under certain (but exceptional) circumstances such as clients being in the same family.

Helping You With Your Real Estate Needs

Our real estate attorneys at Hoffman & Forde are here to determine the best options for your real estate transaction. Whether you’re the seller or buyer, we work with 0ur clients to ensure their rights are protected and that their transactions go smoothly. Our boutique law firm gives you access to a wide array of legal specialties, so that all aspects of your case or transaction are covered. If you need legal counsel for residential or commercial real estate matters, schedule a consultation with Hoffman & Forde today.

USCIS Increases Fees in 2020

The USCIS is fee funded unlike other government agencies. After their biennial fee review, the agency is adjusting their fees “to help meet operational needs.” People seeking naturalization as US citizens, or those who wish to travel and work here can expect an increase in their fees. The Department of Homeland security announced that this increase will be effective starting October 2. This final rule increases fees by a weighted average of 20% and it affects a few things:

  • Removal of certain fee exemptions
  • Changes in fee waiver requirements
  • Premium processing time limits
  • New fees for certain immigration benefit requests
  • Establishing multiple fees for nonimmigrant worker petitions
  • Limiting the number of beneficiaries for certain forms 

(Source)

Additionally, the USCIS notes that “[a]ny application, petition, or request postmarked on or after this date must include payment of the new, correct fees established by this final rule.” The final rule also increases fees for employment-based nonimmigrant visa applications; however, fees for employment-based visas will decrease from $700 to $555. Most fee waivers are also eliminated for low-income immigrants who qualify.

While the changes eliminate most fee waivers, it adds a new asylum application fee, and requires separate fees for adjustment applications. The rise in fees is on par with the agency’s last adjustment, but the 20% bump is still significant.

How Our Immigration Lawyers Assist Clients

No matter your status or goals for immigration, our immigration attorneys at Hoffman & Forde can assist you with a variety of legal services. Hoffman & Forde represents individuals, businesses, and even corporations for various immigration cases. Our attorneys can assist clients with the following:

  • Permanent residency
  • Employment-based visas
  • National citizenship
  • Deportation defense
  • Citizenship applications
  • Employment-based visas
  • Investor-based visas
  • Family green card petitions
  • Green cards through marriage 
  • Waivers
  • Consular processing

The immigration process can be complex. There are many moving parts but our experienced attorneys ensure that you have quality representation throughout the process. We work closely with our clients to provide thorough case assessments and present the best proposals for your legal status.

Your Southern California Immigration Attorneys

Hoffman & Forde is here to help you achieve the American Dream. If you are undocumented in this country, remember that you still have rights and we’re here to defend them. We help clients in San Diego, Los Angeles, and Orange Counties to stay on track of crucial information and deadlines, as well as assist with completing and submitting all the necessary paperwork. As our client, you can with first-class legal service, high-level attention, and a sophisticated approach to problem-solving that utilizes time-sensitive, practical legal advice.

If you need legal assistance with your immigration process, please contact us today for a consultation.

What You Need to Know About Estate Planning

Estate Planning for Everyone

Thinking about your last will and testament may seem morbid. But as the pandemic has shown us, families have reconsidered the importance of preparing for the worst. In the early stages of the pandemic, there was a surge of people rushing to draft their last will. As we have previously written, these people include “parents of young kids, medical professionals in the frontlines, and the most vulnerable among us.” Estate planning is something everyone should consider even for those who do not have a lot of assets. 

Prepare for All Outcomes

Estate planning is not just getting your affairs in order in the event you die. In case you get incapacitated, having a plan in place will help your loved ones with decision making. Even the most careful drivers get into accidents and even the healthiest of people still fall ill. Here are options you need to know to account for all outcomes.

Last Wills

These take effect after your death and provide a road map for how you wish to dispose of your property and assets. Wills can be subject to probate, which is a publicly-recorded process to verify the validity and authenticity of a will. 

Trusts

These are also known living trusts. These are not subject to the public probate and can be revocable or irrevocable. One big difference between the two is that with irrevocable trusts, you waive the rights to control your assets and assign a third party as the legal owner of your estate. Both types have their pros and cons as you consider tax implications and other factors.

Healthcare Proxies

With this option, you name someone to make medical decisions for you on your behalf, including the type of medical treatment you receive or refuse. This is also otherwise known as the medical power of attorney.  

FPOA

The financial power of attorney or FPOA is similar to healthcare proxies but it applies to financial decisions including purchase of property, paying bills and taxes, managing financial accounts, and others.

Business Succession Planning

This helps family-owned businesses protect their assets in case of death or incapacitation. With many logistical and financial decisions to consider, make sure your business is prepared and included in your estate plan.

Your Southern California Estate Planning Attorneys

Don’t let the courts decide the fate of your children in the event of your death or incapacitation. Distribute your assets the way you would want by specifying it in your last will. Don’t wait until you are ill or incapacitated to prepare your loved ones for the future. Factor in all outcomes and consider legal counsel as you plan for your estate. Our experienced Southern California estate planning attorneys at Hoffman & Forde are here to help.

As a boutique law firm, we have experts across disciplines and relevant industries. With our creative solutions, your estate plan will be tailored to you and your goals. Invest in legal advice and set up your family for the future for peace of mind. Contact us today for a consultation.

Commercial Real Estate Outlook 2020 

Image of downtown San Diego

With a pandemic-induced recession still looming large in the United States, reports such as the Allen Matkins and UCLA Anderson Forecast provide valuable insight into the current state of commercial real estate. Here are some takeaways:

Office Space Markets

The survey looked into trends surrounding working from home and how this impacts office space demand. Will an increase in work from home setups decrease demand for office spaces? It appears that the answer is not as straightforward. Factors such as what industries are currently hiring (tech and finance) and which ones will ramp up hiring in the future (health care) need to be considered. The survey also notes that:

“Although half of the Bay Area and Southern California panelists said their plans for the coming 12 months were unaffected by the pandemic, one-third are ramping back development by more than 15 percent from their previous plans. Overall, 75 percent of panelists expressed some stress with current tenant leases. For the one-third that will engage in some new development, the panelists in each market believed that land, building materials, and labor costs would be more favorable.”

Developments are projected to be on the rise beginning in late 2021.

Retail Space Markets

One of the hardest hit industries during the pandemic has been retail. Workers could not come in, there was loss of income so consumers have little to spend, and consumers in general have increasingly been turning to online shopping thus affecting brick-and-mortar stores. Here’s what the survey says regarding retail space markets:

“In the Bay Area and Southern California, two-thirds of panelists will not develop any new properties in the coming 12 months. Approximately the same percentage expect difficulty with current leases and expect plummeting property values.”

New retail development projects are still happening but there is a significant decline.

Industrial Space Markets

While panelists from the survey are generally pessimistic about the retail markets, they believe that the demand for warehouse spaces will still see steady growth. 

“Sixty percent of the panelists in Southern California and 43 percent in Northern California are planning at least one new development in the next 12 months, and 39 percent and 29 percent are planning multiple projects respectively.”

However, “[i]f If the demand for warehouse space and the stock of warehouses are increasing at about the same rate as projected, then 2023 will see a mild erosion of rental rates when adjusted for inflation, and there remains the possibility of some erosion in occupancy.” The outlook for industrial spaces leans towards a more balanced one. 

Multi-Family Housing Markets

In a previous UCLA Anderson study, there was a contrast between Southern California and Bay Area development growth rates. Panelists predict that with economic recovery and growth, multi-family housing demands in both Southern California and the Bay Area will increase with it. 

“Though the UCLA Anderson Forecast is looking at a 30-month recovery in the state, and there remains a great deal of uncertainty with regard to the current public health crisis, the market for multi-family housing remaining robust seems likely. Indeed, in spite of the turn-around in sentiment from each of the six panels, almost three-fourths of the Southern California panelists and two-thirds of the Bay Area panelists stated that the pandemic had either not changed their plans for future activity or increased it.”

The survey concludes with a hopeful take. Jerry Nickelsburg, UCLA Anderson Forecast Director & Senior Economist, notes that “this survey is not what is going on now, but what is going to go on three years from now in 2023. Across these spaces, with the exception of retail, there is certainly some optimism about opportunities that may exist.”

Your Southern California Real Estate Attorneys

If you or your business need legal counsel regarding your commercial space, our real estate law firm can help. Hoffman & Forde’s real estate attorneys have years of experience handling commercial real estate cases and advising business owners about their rights and responsibilities. Schedule a complimentary consultation today and tell us how we can help.

Types of Bankruptcy Our Attorneys Can Help With

Attorney with scales, piggy bank, gavel, and house model

The novel coronavirus has shut down businesses of all sizes, many of which have also filed for bankruptcy. Even large companies such as Hertz, Neiman Marcus, J. Crew were no exceptions. One of the latest casualties is pizza chain California Pizza Kitchen, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. According to this New York Times article,

“More than 6,800 companies filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last year, and this year will almost certainly have more. The flood of petitions from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression could swamp the system, making it harder to save the companies that can be rescued, bankruptcy experts said.

Most good-size companies that go into bankruptcy try to restructure themselves, working out payment agreements for their debts so they can stay open. But if a plan can’t be worked out — or isn’t successful — they can be liquidated instead. Equipment and property are sold off to pay debts, and the company disappears.”

Interestingly, while the pandemic hit California hard, Chapter 11 filings are in flux. Bloomberg Law notes that

“confirmed coronavirus cases and Chapter 11 numbers rise and fall in their own rhythms. In fact, Chapter 11 cases steadily dropped in California from March (43) to April (30) to May (27) as confirmed cases increased from 8,221 to 41,897 to 61,821. The two only increased contemporaneously in June 2020.”

While big companies make the news when it comes to bankruptcy, the impact these filings have on the workers are not as reported. You may be an employee whose company is immediately facing bankruptcy. Perhaps you or someone you know is about to file for individual bankruptcy after debt consolidation is no longer a viable option.

If 2020 has taught us something, it’s that events like a pandemic can trigger such great economic uncertainty that puts even the most prepared at risk. Often, even major expenses such as health care bills, job loss and other financial loss can result in bankruptcy. But regardless of the reason, there are ways to recover from financial stress. Our bankruptcy attorneys can help find a solution that fits your needs so you can start over with your finances.

Types of Bankruptcy

Get the legal assistance you need and get your financial fresh start. Find out which type of bankruptcy you qualify for and how our bankruptcy lawyers can assist.

Chapter 7

This type is also called the straight or liquidation bankruptcy. A court will appoint a trustee who will then own your assets to sell and distribute the funds to your creditors. Under current bankruptcy laws, you must pass a means test before filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If your current monthly income is below the Southern California adjusted median income, then you automatically qualify. Our lawyers have helped many people file Chapter 7 Bankruptcy after other attorneys told them that they did not qualify. 

Chapter 13

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy may help you get out of debt by completing a repayment plan over a 3- to 5-year period. Chapter 13 is often the best option for those who cannot pass the Chapter 7 means test or those seeking to protect assets that would be placed at risk by Chapter 7. We explain your options for loan modifications versus bankruptcy and the prospects of reaffirming secured debts. 

Chapter 11

This type is a reorganization bankruptcy and is available to individuals and businesses. In contrast to Chapter 7, the debtor remains in control of business operations under chapter 11 and doesn’t sell off all of its assets. The process involved with Chapter 11 personal or business bankruptcy is far more complicated than either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 personal bankruptcy. In fact, you or your business will have to be involved in the process for several years in most cases. We can help you through all of these steps and explain each option available to you.

Chapter 15

The main goal of Chapter 15 is to provide cooperation between a foreign debtor, foreign courts and the U.S. Bankruptcy courts. A foreign debtor who had assets in a number of countries would file Chapter 15. Our attorneys have experience assisting foreign debtors with their complicated debt problems. 

Our Bankruptcy Attorneys Can Help

Our boutique law firm offers comprehensive legal services and years of proven experience to help you recover from debt. We also recognize that each case is unique. This is why we deliver creative solutions and fee structures tailored to each client’s needs. Financial relief is possible and we’ll help you navigate the legal process from start to finish. Contact us for a consultation today.

 

Is Now a Good Time to Start a Business?

With many businesses struggling or outright closing permanently, it may seem counterintuitive to start a new business in the middle of a pandemic or a recession. But did you know that some of the biggest companies today were started during an economic downturn? Today we take a look at why starting a new business in the midst of a pandemic is still a good idea.

Business Insider listed companies that got their start in the middle of a recession. The list includes giants such as Microsoft, General Motors, Hyatt, and Hewlett-Packard. Previous downturns also paved the way for mobile companies such as Square and Slack. NerdWallet was born during the 2008-2009 financial crisis and CEO Tim Chen lists these factors why a recession is the perfect time to start a business:

  • Better talent at cheaper costs
  • Inexpensive marketing
  • Less competition
  • Nimbleness of new businesses

Rashmi Menon, entrepreneur in residence at the University of Michigan’s Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies, echoes some of Tim Chen’s sentiments in a New York Times article. She notes that “there is less competition for resources” during these times and “whatever changes we face, positive or negative, bring up new customer needs. And customer needs are at the core of any business.”

Most economic signs seem to say it’s crazy to invest in a business or to start one during challenging times. However, there are still many out there whose entrepreneurial spirits are undefeated. There are still people applying for small business loans and requesting EINs, albeit at a slower rate than previous years.

“There have been more than 500,000 applications for an employer identification number since mid-March, according to the Census Bureau, although that is down nearly 20 percent from a year ago. Between mid-March and mid-April, the Small Business Administration issued nearly 300 start-up loans worth about $153 million, a 36 percent drop from a year earlier. Stripe, the credit card processing firm, said it had handled more than $1 billion in sales for businesses that started on the platform during that time.”

Source

To do business well, consider legal counsel to make sure all aspects of your endeavor are in accordance with and protected by the law. 

How Our Law Firm Helps Businesses

Whether you’re considering pursuing a startup or already have a business that’s changing directions, our Southern California law firm strategically advises our clients on all phases of a business’ cycle, from formation to succession. Our clients may choose to retain us to serve as if we are their in-house general counsel or serve as consultants during the formation phase.

Entity Formation & Planning 

Hoffman & Forde is engaged in all aspects of our clients’ business formation and development, from conception through liquidity. We provide business and legal guidance to clients through all stages of development, from initial incorporation, to seed and angel investments, venture capital debt and equity financing, strategic investments, and more.

Contracts

Contracts are key to any business. Our business consulting law firm has extensive experience in drafting tailored contracts to meet our clients’ needs, including terms and conditions, distribution agreements, customer contracts and non-disclosure agreements, breach of contracts, and more. 

Corporate Governance

Our business attorneys help clients develop and implement corporate governance policies and procedures, including employment policies, to foster best practices and to help meet clients’ obligations under applicable law. With policies changing more frequently because of coronavirus, employers need to be even more aware of their legal rights and responsibilities.

Consulting

We counsel employers on regulatory, legal, and human resources issues to ensure compliance with employment laws. We also help our clients establish policies, procedures, and guidelines essential to their businesses. At Hoffman & Forde, we help business owners keep up with their legal requirements and duties, and provide superior legal advice and planning. Learn more about our business consulting practice or get in touch with our business attorneys for a consultation today.

 

What is probate and how does it work?

Senior man with clipboard signing document

When it comes to estate planning, you may have encountered the term probate. In this blog post, we define what probate is, when it’s required, and what’s involved. 

What is probate?

Probate is a legal term and process to verify a deceased person’s last will and testament, if they created one. It involves the following:

  • Authenticating the will
  • Appraising and inventorying the deceased’s property and assets
  • Paying off the decedent’s debts including taxes
  • Distributing the assets to the beneficiaries. If there is no will, state law will direct how the property and assets are distributed.

Probate laws vary by state. According to the California probate code:

In a probate case, an executor (if there is a will) or an administrator (if there is no will) is appointed by the court as personal representative to collect the assets, pay the debts and expenses, and then distribute the remainder of the estate to the beneficiaries (those who have the legal right to inherit), all under the supervision of the court. The entire case can take between 9 months to 1 ½ years, maybe even longer.

Source 

What estates need formal probate?

Certain estates need to go through probate court. Just because there is a will doesn’t always mean that probate court can be avoided. Typically, probate court is necessary when a will is unclear, contested, or when only the deceased holds the assets in their name.

In California you must go to court if the decedent’s property is worth more than $166,250. The probate case starts with a Petition for Probate. This form has options such as Petition for Probate of Will and for Letters Testamentary and Petition for Letters of Administration.

How does probate work?

Here are basic steps to take when dealing with the deceased’s estate: 

  1. Determine the executor. If there is a will, the representative of the estate is the executor named in the will. If there is no will, the court will appoint an administrator to be the representative.
  1. Fulfill the executor’s duties. After the executor’s been identified, they fulfill duties that include (but are not limited to):
  • Securing the decedent’s property
  • Collecting documents such as copies of the death certificate
  • Collecting assets and death benefits
  • Managing digital assets (such as documents stored online) and canceling subscriptions
  • Preparing the decedent’s final income tax returns
  • Notify creditors
  1. Identify the heirs and beneficiaries. When it comes to naming those who have the right to inherit, “beneficiaries” are the recipients if there is a will. Heirs refer to those who have the right to inherit, but there was no will created (otherwise known as “dying intestate”). Figuring out who the heirs or beneficiaries are isn’t always simple even if a will is present. For instance, the will may not have been updated prior to the loved one’s death or no changes were made after a divorce. In cases like these, consult with a lawyer to identify the heirs or beneficiaries.
  1. Inventory the estate. The executor will take stock of the property, put together descriptions for each asset, and determine the assets’ values at the time of death. Property includes tangibles (such as jewelry, cars, or furniture) or non-tangibles (such as stocks and bonds); real property includes things permanently on land like a house. As the executor inventories the assets, it’s also important to note how the decedent came to own the property. Some helpful questions to ask include who it was purchased with, whether it’s co-owned or not, and whether it’s community property or not. There are other factors to consider and where legal assistance will prove beneficial. The decedent’s taxes and final bills also need to be paid off, and taxes due will be paid from the estate account.
  2. Distribute the assets. Once the previous steps are complete, the assets will then be transferred to the heirs or beneficiaries.

How Our Probate Attorneys Can Help

Probate should be avoided as much as possible. Planning with an estate attorney in advance can save you the headache of probate court, potential relationship strains, and financial stress. One advantage of probate is having the court settle disputes between heirs. But you also run the risk of higher costs and a drawn-out process that could take anywhere from a few months to several years. 

 Hoffman & Forde’s probate lawyers are here to help you navigate probate disputes and estate administration. As a boutique firm, we draw from diverse practice areas and decades of experience so your case is covered from all angles. We keep fees cost-effective while still providing undivided attention and high-end legal services for our clients in San Diego, Los Angeles, and Orange County. Contact us for a consultation today.

Introducing New Practice Area Pages

We’re a boutique law firm, and that means we offer a wide range of practice areas to serve your specific needs. We’ve recently expanded our website to give you more information on how we can serve you. 

Civil Litigation

Are you considering a lawsuit or facing litigation? Our experienced civil litigation attorneys can help. Learn more about additional civil litigation services and specialties below.

Commercial & Residential Real Estate

Our commercial and residential real estate attorneys offer a full range of services in San Diego, Los Angeles, and Orange County. We have proven expertise in the following areas:

  • Real Estate Dispute Attorney – Transactions don’t always run smoothly. If a dispute is unavoidable, hire a skilled attorney today.
  • Landlords & Tenants Attorney – You can prevent landlord tenant conflicts before they happen or reach mutual agreement with counsel.
  • Escrow Attorney – Resolve escrow disputes and close more effectively. Stop contract breaches and unnecessary fees.
  • Real Estate Litigation Attorney– Facing real estate litigation? Protect your property against fraud and other potential issues.
  • Lease Negotiation Attorney – Do you have lease modification or commercial eviction needs? We help businesses stand their ground.
  • Real Estate Non-Disclosure – Are you buying, selling, or brokering a real estate property? Seek legal advice first, sign later.

Business Consulting

Business owners face a number of legal duties and requirements. Invest in a business attorney to eliminate legal hurdles and to set up your business for success. As our client, you may choose to retain us, which allows us to develop an in-depth understanding of your business, culture, and legal needs. We also specialize in the following practice area:

  • Employment Attorney – If you are an employee who has been put at a disadvantage, contact our employment attorneys.

Estate Planning

Protect your legacy and ensure your loved ones are taken care of with an estate planning attorney. Distribute your assets according to your wishes. Reduce or eliminate estate taxes. Spare your loved ones from probate court. Get your estate plan in order to gain peace of mind with expert legal advice. Hoffman & Forde also specializes in these related practices:

  • Probate Attorney – We can help if you’re facing probate disputes or want to learn more about your estate planning options.
  • Wills & Trusts Attorney – Prepare well for the future. Save yourself from costly mistakes with our experienced attorneys.

Tax Advisory

Do you need legal advice for your unique tax situation? Our tax attorneys practical legal services suited to your needs, whether you need help with tax planning, family or corporate transactions, and more.  

  • Tax Problems – Are you facing a difficult or complicated tax situation? We’ll help you navigate the complexities of tax law.

Whatever your situation or industry, our lawyers at Hoffman & Forde are ready to deliver expert and creative legal solutions. Schedule your consultation today to tell us about your case or to learn more about our practice areas. 

California Coronavirus Workplace Safety and Employment Resources

Even in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, we are still bound by our legal duties. Employers and workers alike still need to know their rights and responsibilities to ensure that everyone is safe and their business is run sustainably.

As businesses have been opening at various stages throughout California, here are some basic guidelines and resources that employers and workers need to keep in mind. All facilities must check off these items prior to reopening:

  1. Perform a detailed risk assessment and implement a site-specific protection plan
  2. Train employees on how to limit the spread of COVID-19, including how to screen themselves for symptoms and stay home if they have them
  3. Implement individual control measures and screenings
  4. Implement disinfecting protocols
  5. Implement physical distancing guidelines

Industry-Specific Guidelines in California

These guidelines are available in the state’s COVID-19 website and cover topics such as a workplace specific plan, employee training topics, and cleaning & disinfecting protocols. We have included a few guides here for your reference.

For those needing unemployment assistance, the California Employment Development Department (EDD) has resources for filing unemployment claims. Their Pandemic Unemployment Assistance page can be viewed here. If you are an essential worker and your employer has failed to follow these guidelines, they may be subject to damages and/or penalties. You have the right to file a complaint or to refuse to go work if your environment is unsafe.

According to California’s Department of Industrial relations, if you are a non-essential worker who can’t work from home, you “can use any available paid sick leave for time off work under the ‘preventative care’ provision in the law.”Employers also need to be mindful of the following legislation:

For employers and workers needing legal assistance during this time, schedule your consultation with our employment and wage & hour lawyers. We will help you understand your rights, make sense of laws that apply to your situation, and walk you through the legal process.

Sources:

California COVID-19 Website

California Department of Industrial Relations

California Labor & Workforce Development Agency

FFCRA Paid Sick Leave: What You Need to Know

Has COVID-19 prevented you from reporting to work? Are you an employer whose workers got ill from the coronavirus? Has your child’s school or place of care closed because of the pandemic? If you answered yes to any of these questions, know your employer and worker options for paid sick leaves with the FFCRA.

What is the FFCRA?

As of April 1st, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) notified the public that American workers and employers will receive benefits through the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act. Both of these acts are part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act or FFCRA. The Wage and Hour Division of the DOL administers the FFCRA’s paid leave provisions. For legal assistance regarding paid leaves, a wage and hour lawyer can help. 

FFCRA is intended to address COVID-19 workplace issues, specifically by reimbursing tax credits to private employers with fewer than 500 employees. The credits give the employees paid leave for COVID-19 specific reasons. With the reimbursements, employers can keep their workers on payroll while workers do not have to worry about choosing between their livelihood and their health. FFCRA is effective from April 2, 2020 and will expire on December 31, 2020.  

What else is covered under the FFCRA?

Under the temporary rule, there are other provisions intended to support both employers and workers. These include the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA). The differences between the two provisions are listed below.

EPSLA

This provision requires specific employers to give up to 80 hours paid sick leave to employees affected by COVID-19. According to the DOL, these reasons may include:

  • the employee or someone the employee is caring for is subject to a government quarantine order or has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine;
  • the employee is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking medical attention; or,
  • the employee is caring for his or her son or daughter whose school or place of care is closed or whose child care provider is unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor

If you are a worker requiring medical attention due to COVID-19, or you need to provide care to someone who has been required to quarantine, the 80 hours of paid sick leave that EPSLA offers may apply to you.

EFMLEA

Under this provision, the Department requires specific employers to provide a maximum of 10 weeks paid and 2 weeks unpaid emergency leave (family or medical) to their employees, provided that the employee is caring for a child whose “school or place of care is closed or whose child care provider is unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.” In California, the Labor Code section 230.8 also details provisions for parents and guardians in the event of school or daycare closure. 

For parents who need to take time off to care for their kids because of school closure, the EFMLEA will cover 10 weeks of paid and 2 weeks unpaid emergency leave. 

Who is eligible under the FFCRA?

Certain public employers and private employers with 500 or fewer employees are covered under the FFCRA. Federal employees are covered by Title II of the Family and Medical Leave Act’s paid sick leave provision. For small businesses with fewer than 50 employees, they may be exempted from providing leave if the leave requirements would threaten the business’ survival. According to the DOL, “[a]ll employees of covered employers are eligible for two weeks of paid sick time for specified reasons related to COVID-19. Employees employed for at least 30 days are eligible for up to an additional 10 weeks of paid family leave to care for a child under certain circumstances related to COVID-19.” California’s Department of Industrial Relations also offers state-specific resources regarding COVID-19 and paid sick leaves.

Know Your Rights

No employee should be forced to choose between keeping their jobs and staying healthy; likewise, employers who are struggling need the provisions afforded by the FFCRA. If you are a worker or employer seeking legal counsel for COVID-19 related labor issues, contact our experts at Hoffman & Forde. Our wage and hour attorneys will provide expert legal advice regarding wages, paid leaves, and relevant labor laws during the pandemic.    

Sources:

U.S. Department of Labor

California Department of Industrial Relations