By David DeMoss
On April 1, 2020, The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) enacted the Families First Coronavirus Respond Act (FFCRA), which gives some relief to employers and employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. The act applies to all American businesses with less than 500 employees, giving the employers tax credits so they can allow their employees to take paid leave — reducing the anxiety of employees having to choose between going to work for an income (but putting themselves at risk) or staying home without earning one. Do note that small businesses with less than 50 employees may not be required to provide leave due to school closings or child care unavailability if the leave would threaten the business’ viability moving forward.
Under the act, employers must provide employees with up to 2 weeks (80 hours or a part-time employee’s usual number of hours for a 2-week period) of paid sick leave, based on the higher of either their typical rate of pay or applicable state/Federal minimum wage. Qualifying reasons an employee cannot work/telework include:
- Due to a Federal, state or local quarantine or lockdown
- Because he/she has been advised by a healthcare professional to self-quarantine related to COVID-19
- He/she is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and awaiting a medical diagnosis
- He/she is caring for an individual in self-quarantine because of reasons 1 or 2
- He/she is caring for his/her child(ren) whose school or place of care closed due to COVID-19
- He/she is enduring a substantially similar condition as defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
If the employee is unable to work due to reasons 1-3, he or she shall receive 100% of their paid leave — up to $511 daily and $5,110 total. If the employee is unable to work due to reasons 4 or 6, he or she will be paid ⅔ of their paid leave — up to $200 daily and $2,000 total. If the employee claims reason #5, he or she will be paid for up to 12 weeks of paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave — up to ⅔ of their pay (up to $200 daily and $12,000 total). For more information about the FFCRA, please read the full news release from the Department of Labor below.
Last Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) announced more guidance to provide information to workers and employers about how each will be able to take advantage of the protections and relief offered by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) when it takes effect on April 1, 2020.
The new guidance includes two new posters, one for federal workers and one for all other employees, that will fulfill notice requirements for employers obligated to inform employees about their rights under this new law. It also includes questions and answers about posting requirements, and a Field Assistance Bulletin describing WHD’s 30-day non-enforcement policy. The new guidance addresses critical issues such as whether employers may post required notice electronically, whether employers must provide notice of this law to recently laid-off individuals, when FFCRA applies to federal workers and when enforcement of the new rules will begin.
“The Wage and Hour Division continues to prioritize providing this vital information to workers and employers so that both are fully prepared to maximize the benefits available to them as quickly as possible when this law goes into effect on April 1, 2020,” said Wage and Hour Division Administrator Cheryl Stanton. “These critical protections will provide a lifeline to untold numbers of struggling families, and to countless employers trying to balance their business needs with the needs of their workers, their communities and their own families.”
FFCRA will help the United States combat and defeat COVID-19 by giving all American businesses with fewer than 500 employees tax credits to provide employees with paid leave, either for the employee’s own health needs or to care for family members. The legislation will enable employers to keep their workers on their payrolls, while at the same time ensuring that workers are not forced to choose between their paychecks and the public health measures needed to combat the virus.
The guidance announced today augments information WHD published last Tuesday, including a Fact Sheet for Employees, a Fact Sheet for Employers and a Questions and Answers document. Additional guidance is forthcoming.
WHD provides additional information on common issues employers and employees face when responding to COVID-19 and its effects on wages and hours worked under the Fair Labor Standards Act and job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act at https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic.
For more information about the laws enforced by the WHD, call 866-4US-WAGE, or visit www.dol.gov/agencies/whd.
For further information about COVID-19, please visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
WHD’s mission is to promote and achieve compliance with labor standards to protect and enhance the welfare of the nation’s workforce. WHD enforces federal minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping and child labor requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act. WHD also enforces the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, the Employee Polygraph Protection Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, wage garnishment provisions of the Consumer Credit Protection Act and a number of employment standards and worker protections as provided in several immigration related statutes. Additionally, WHD administers and enforces the prevailing wage requirements of the Davis Bacon Act and the Service Contract Act and other statutes applicable to federal contracts for construction and for the provision of goods and services.
The mission of the U.S. Department of Labor is to foster, promote and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.