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.
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.
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.
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.