Federal sick leave requirements begin April 1
Wednesday, March 25, 2020
Posted by: Curt Kipp
The U. S. Department of Labor (DOL) has issued a federal mandate, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), to mitigate the disruption the novel coronavirus outbreak has caused businesses and their staff across the nation. The act requires certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19.
Peter S. Hicks, shareholder at Jordan Ramis PC, has issued a business alert to notify members the DOL has accelerated their implementation date from April 2 to April 1. The DOL is expected to issue its model notice to employees March 25. (Update: the notice PDF has now been issued. See below.) Read the full guidance update to find links to resources for employees, employers, and frequently asked questions. PDF
The FFCRA act provides employees with federal paid leave in the form of Emergency Paid Sick Leave and/or the Emergency Expansion of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
Key points overall include:
- These new leaves are in addition to any leave already provided by state and local governments and employers.
- The new leaves apply to all employers with 500 or less employees, although employers with 50 or less employees can request an exemption if paying the leave would jeopardize the viability of the business.
- Employers receive a dollar for dollar payroll tax credit for leave expenses.
- These new leaves take effect on April 1, 2020.
Key points related to Emergency Paid Sick Leave and the Emergency Expansion of the FMLA include:
Emergency Paid Sick Leave:
- Provides up to 80 hours of paid sick leave in addition to Oregon Sick Leave and any other PTO.
- Important – Emergency Sick Leave available only for circumstances related to the virus (State or Federal Order, quarantine, illness, or school closure).
- Paid at 100% for absences due to local, state or federal order, or personal illness or quarantine.
- Paid at two-thirds for absences to care for family members.
- Applies to all employers with 500 or less employees, but employers with 50 or less employees may be exempted if paying the leave would jeopardize the viability of their business.
Emergency Expansion of FMLA:
- Leave for employees unable to work or telework due to caring for a child 18 or under because of school closure or closure of childcare due to public health emergency.
- Employee must have worked for employer for 30 days.
- Paid for by employers with less than 500 employees. No pay for initial 10 days of leave, but employer pays remaining 10 weeks of leave at two-thirds of regular rate, not to exceed $200/day or $10,000 in total.
- Important – Leave only available for childcare if the employee unable to work or telework.
These newly enacted leaves are complex and work in concert with all other available leaves, provided by both state and local laws and employer specific policies.
Update — March 27, 2020
The U.S. Department of Labor has issued the poster PDF that employers are required to post regarding the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, and the paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave that certain employers are required to provide. Jordan Ramis PC recommends that employers post this notice in the workplace and also email it to all employees.
Here is some sample text that could be used in an email to employees:
In response to the Coronavirus outbreak, the U.S. Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the "Act"). The Act provides leave to employees for certain circumstances related to the Coronavirus outbreak. Attached is a Notice of Employee Rights under the Act provided by the U.S. Department of Labor. This Notice is being sent via email and will be posted in our offices. If you have any questions related to potential leave under the Act, please contact _____________.
The OAN's legal counsel Jordan Ramis PC is closely tracking local, state, and federal developments related to COVID-19. Jordan Ramis is advising the OAN on issues of general interest, and the OAN is circulating that information to our members. Unlike many industry legal issues which fall under the OAN's Legal Access program, in this case, specific legal advice regarding workforce issues need to be handled on a case-by-case basis under an attorney-client relationship. Jordan Ramis lawyers are available to set up new client matters to assist our members during these difficult times. To retain the firm, please contact Peter Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org or Steve Shropshire at email@example.com.