COVID-19 continues to spread. As a result, Congress passed new rules to regulate businesses and accommodate workers battling the coronavirus. In addition to the rules outlined in the Family Medical Leave Act, employers must also adhere to the policies outlined in the new Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
What Is the Families First Coronavirus Response Act?
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the FFCRA “requires certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19.” These requirements are in effect through Dec. 31, 2020.
FFCRA mandates that covered employers provide employees two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay if the employee is:
- Unable to work, including unable to telework, because the employee is quarantined as a result of a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19
- Experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis
FFCRA also mandates that employers provide employees two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay if the employee is:
- Unable to work because of a need to care for an individual subject to quarantine
- Unable to work because of a need to care for a child (under 18 years of age) whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19
- Experiencing a substantially similar condition as specified by the secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the secretaries of the Treasury and Labor
Which employers are covered?
Employers with fewer than 500 full- and part-time employees must abide by the FFCRA. However, there are some exceptions. Because federal government employees are covered by Title II of the Family and Medical Leave Act, the provisions outlined by the FFCRA do not apply to federal employees. Additionally, for small businesses (i.e. businesses with fewer than 50 employees), if circumstances from the requirement to provide leave due to school closings or child care unavailability would jeopardize the viability of the business, these businesses may qualify for exemption. Most importantly, the directive given by the Department of Labor states, “Employers of Health Care Providers or Emergency Responders may elect to exclude such employees from eligibility for the leave provided under the Act.”
What does this mean for your business?
Companies big and small have been impacted by COVID-19. This new Families First Coronavirus Response Act, while discernibly beneficial and essential for consumers, may put a strain on businesses. For employers of healthcare providers or emergency responders who are exempt, these healthcare institutions should be placing greater emphasis on the well-being of workers and communicating to them the importance of their service. Countless brands and businesses rallying behind healthcare workers through “thank you” campaigns have been popping up, and with this new act in place, it’s now more important than ever to show support.
Source: U.S Department of Labor, “Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Employer Paid Leave Requirements”