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Families First Coronavirus Response Act: What does it mean for employers and employees?

April 21, 2020 by in Labor and Employment

Column by Ethan B. Babb, Attorney at Lacey Lyons Rezanka

Families First Coronavirus Response Act: What does it mean for employers and employees?

Enacted into law on March 18, 2020 the Families First Corona Response Act (“FFCRA or “Act”) was intended to provide relief and assistance to the workforce, as the world faces the global pandemic caused by the Corona virus (“COVID- 19”). The Department of Labor (“DOL”) has issued a series of guiding regulations to provide employers and employees with clarification of their responsibilities and rights under the Act.

The Act requires certain employers to provide employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. The DOL Wage and Hour Division administers and enforces the new law’s paid leave requirements. These provisions will be applicable through December 31, 2020.

Per DOL guidelines the Act provides that employees of covered employers are entitled to:

  • Two (2) weeks (up to eighty (80) hours) of paid leave where the employee is unable to work because the employee is subject to quarantine or isolation order, and/or exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis; or
  • Two (2) weeks (up to eighty (80) hours) of paid sick leave  because the employee is unable to work because of a need to care for an individual subject to quarantine or isolation order, or to care for a child (under 18 years of age) whose school or child care service is closed or unavailable for reasons in relation to COVID-19, and/or the employee is exhibiting a substantially similar condition as specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of the Treasury and Labor; and
  • Up to an additional 10 weeks of paid expanded leave where an employee, who has been employed for at least 30 calendar days, is unable to work due to care for a child whose school or childcare service is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.

 

Employer Responsibilities under the FFCRA: Are you a Covered Employer under the Act?

The act applies to private employers with less than 500 employees, and to certain government employers.

Small Business Exception, under the FFCRA employers with fewer than 50 employees may qualify to be exempted from the requirement to provide leave due to school closings or childcare unavailability, if the leave requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern. However, Small businesses are still required to provide Emergency Paid Sick Leave under the FFCRA to employees who need leave due in part to:

1) the employee being subject to a quarantine or an isolation order;

2) the employee having been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine;

3) the employee is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and are seeking a medical diagnosis;

4) or the employee is caring for an individual who is subject to a quarantine order or has been advised to quarantine. The small business exemption does not provide an exception from these requirements. 

Government Employees, most federal government are covered by Title II of the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), which was not amended by this Act, and are therefore not covered by the expanded family and medical leave provisions of the FFCRA. However, federal employees covered by Title II of the FMLA are covered by the paid sick leave provision of the FFCRA. Additionally, there are exceptions under the FFCRA for Health Care Providers and Emergency Responders.

Employee Rights under the FFCRA: Are you an Eligible Employee under the Act?

Eligible Employees, all 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 thirty (30(days are eligible for up to an additional ten (10) weeks of paid family leave to care for a child under certain circumstances related to COVID-19

Under the Act, an employee qualifies for paid sick time if the employee is unable to work (or unable to work remotely) due to a need for leave because the employee:

  1. is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
  2. has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19;
  3. is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
  4. is caring for an individual subject to an order described in (1) or self-quarantine as described in (2);
  5. is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed (or childcare provider is unavailable) for reasons related to COVID-19; or
  6. is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of Labor and Treasury.

 

Duration of employee leave under the Act: For reasons one (1) through four (4) and six (6): A full-time employee is eligible for eighty (80) hours of leave, and a part-time employee is eligible for the number of hours of leave that the employee works on average over a two-week period. For reason five (5): A full-time employee is eligible for up to twelve (12) weeks of leave (two weeks of paid sick leave followed by up to ten (10) weeks of paid expanded family & medical leave) at forty (40) hours a week, and a part-time employee is eligible for leave for the number of hours that the employee is normally scheduled to work over that period.

 

Pay structure under the Act:

  • For reasons one (1) though three (3) above: employees taking leave are entitled to pay at either their regular rate or the applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher, up to $511 each day and $5,110 in total (over the course a two (2)-week period).

 

  • For reasons four (4) or six (6) above: employees taking leave are entitled to pay at 2/3 their regular rate or 2/3 the applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher, up to $200 each day and $2,000 in total (over the course of a two (2)-week period).

 

  • For reason five (5) above: employees taking leave are entitled to pay at 2/3 their regular rate or 2/3 the applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher, up to $200 each day and $12,000 in the total (over the course a twelve (12)-week period)

How to protect yourself legally?

The Labor and Employment Attorneys of Lacey Lyons Rezanka are equipped to provide you with the proper guidance to navigate your rights and responsibilities during this sensitive time. Having competent and experienced counsel is key protecting your interest as an employee or employer.  Contact us today at 321-608-0890 or online https://www.laceyandlyons.com/.

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