Labor & Employment
The FFCRA Regulations: Key Aspects of the Department of Labor’s Rule
So much has changed since February. For one thing, many of us are having discussions on a daily basis about a law that didn’t exist two months ago — the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).
As you probably know, the FFCRA requires two different types of paid leave — Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) and Expanded FMLA Leave (EFMLA Leave) — for all employers with fewer than 500 employees. An employee can take up to 80 hours of EPSL for a variety of reasons, including if that employee:
- is subject to a government-ordered quarantine or isolation order
- has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine
- is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis
- is caring for an individual subject to quarantine or isolation
- is caring for his or her child due to schools or daycares being closed or the unavailability of a child care provider.
An employee can take up to 12 weeks of EFMLA leave for the reasons listed in the final bullet point above. Depending on a variety of things, the leave may be paid at full or or two-thirds of regular compensation, and there are daily and overall maximum caps on the dollar amount of paid of leave.
Things were extremely fluid for a few weeks and still are to a degree, but the Department of Labor’s rule answers many questions about the FFCRA’s paid leave provisions. Here are a few particularly notable issues to watch for with your own employees.
FFCRA, CARES Act and Employment
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and the CARES Act provide significant COVID-19 related federal employment benefits. Beginning April 1, 2020, FFCRA requires private employers with 500 or fewer employees and public employers to provide paid leave in certain circumstances. First, for qualifying reasons such as an employee who contracts COVID-19 or is under a government or physician-ordered quarantine (and cannot telework), the employee is entitled to 2 weeks leave at full pay, subject to a daily cap of $511. Second, employees who are unable to work (and cannot telework) due to school closures or unavailability of childcare are entitled to 12 weeks paid leave at 2/3 their normal pay rate, subject to a $200/day cap. Employers with fewer than 50 employees may be able to obtain an exemption from the paid leave requirements. Like other federal employment laws, the FFCRA includes a non-retaliation provision.