In response to the COVID-19 public health emergency, Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the “FFCRA”) requiring employers with 500 or less employees to provide paid sick leave and paid family leave to qualified employees affected by the pandemic. These benefits are in addition to any other earned sick leave, vacation or other paid time off benefits offered by the employer. These additional benefits are temporary and are only available to employees through December 31, 2020.
Posting requirement: Now that employers are preparing for employees to return to the workplace, employers covered by the FFCRA must prominently display the U.S. Department of Labor’s poster entitled Employee Rights – Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Family and Medical Leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, a copy of which can be found here.
Distribution of Employee Rights publication: Both the federal and state governments are encouraging employers to continue to permit employees to work remotely to reduce the headcount in the workplace and potential spread of the virus. Covered employers who plan to continue remote work arrangements should therefore distribute the DOL’s Employee Rights publication to these employees, if not to all employees, to ensure employee awareness of leave rights under the FFCRA.
Permitted exceptions to the FFCRA leave requirements: Employers should keep in mind that there are two principal exceptions to the FFCRA’s leave requirements. Employers of health care providers and emergency responders are permitted to opt out of the FFCRA. In addition, the DOL may exempt small businesses with less than 50 employees from providing leave to care for a child whose school is closed or whose child care provider is unavailable, when doing so would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern. Employers invoking these exceptions should so notify employees to minimize any employee misunderstandings about their leave rights under the FFCRA.