Protecting Your Business from FFCRA Violations

Protecting Your Business from FFCRA Violations 2560 1707 Balance Point Team

Updated January 8, 2021

Over the last few months, the Department of Labor has stepped up enforcement actions related to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).

Violations are rampant…

In New Jersey: A Gloucester County-based agricultural employer denied up to two weeks of paid sick leave to an employee in quarantine after testing positive for coronavirus.

In South Florida: Truss manufacturer ordered to pay back wages for wrongly denying an employee paid sick leave to care for a child.

In Houston: Wireless service provider ordered to pay back wages after failing to provide an employee with coronavirus symptoms paid sick leave after their doctor ordered them to self-quarantine.

In Alabama: Christian Services for Children wrongfully denied an employee paid leave to care for her children, despite giving the employee the option to work from home.

In Pennsylvania: Machine shop ordered to pay back wages to an employee who requested leave to provide childcare due to a coronavirus-related school closing.

In San Jose: Manufacturer was ordered to pay $41,214 in back wages to 17 employees for wrongfully denying their requests for paid sick leave for coronavirus-related reasons.

Often, the employer is unaware they are violating the law. Familiarizing yourself with the law’s provisions is the first step in ensuring compliance.

Read answers to commonly asked questions about the FFCRA prepared by the Department of Labor

The FFCRA – What you need to know

The FFCRA was signed into law on March 18th, providing the American workforce with paid sick leave and paid FMLA leave for COVID-related absences. While well-intended, it left employers with many questions. While some uncertainty remains, here is what is known.

Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA)

  • Effective April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020
  • Applies to employers with fewer than 500 employees
  • Any employee who has been working for the employer for at least 30 calendar days is eligible
  • Eligible employees are entitled to take up to 12 weeks of leave for “a qualifying need related to a public health emergency.” Employees who are unable to work (or telework) may take leave to care for a minor child if the child’s school or childcare has been closed or is unavailable due to the COVID-19 emergency
  • The first 10 days (two weeks) are unpaid, but an employee can substitute accrued paid leave, including emergency paid sick leave (outlined below). After 10 days, employers are obligated to pay full-time employees two-thirds of their regular rate of pay for the employee’s regular weekly hours for up to 10 weeks. Part-time employees are to be paid at two-thirds of their regular rate for the average number of hours worked over the prior 6 months

Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA)

  • Effective April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020
  • Private employers with fewer than 500 employees, public agencies (federal/state governments, political subdivisions, schools), any other entity that is not a private entity, and anyone acting directly or indirectly in the interests of the employer are covered
  • Unlike EFMLEA, an employee is immediately eligible for paid sick leave 
  • Employers are required to provide paid sick leave to an employee who is unable to work (or telework) because:
    1. the employee is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19
    2. the employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine because of COVID-19
    3. the employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis
    4. the employee is caring for an individual subject or advised to quarantine or isolation
    5. the employee is caring for a son or daughter when the school or childcare provider has closed or ceased operations due to COVID-19 precautions
    6. the employee is experiencing substantially similar conditions as specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of Labor and Treasury
  • Full-time employees are entitled to 80 hours at their regular rate of pay. However, when caring for a family member (for reasons 4, 5, and 6 above), sick leave is paid at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate. Part-time employees are entitled to the number of hours that the employee works, on average, over a 2-week period
  • The law limits paid leave to $511 per day ($5,110 in total) where leave is taken for reasons (1), (2), and (3) noted above (generally, an employee’s own illness or quarantine); and $200 per day ($2,000 in total) where leave is taken for reasons (4), (5), or (6) (care for others or school closures)
  • The law requires that the employer allow the employee to first use sick leave provided for under this sick leave law, then decide to use any remaining accrued paid leave under an employer’s policy. The employer cannot require the employee to use accrued leave under an employer policy first

Read more

Protecting your business

The laws are complicated. Violations are common and costly. Fortunately, Balance Point has solutions to help you navigate these laws and ensure your compliance.

We help our clients accurately track data associated with the FFCRA within our HCM platform. Special earning codes keep track of each employee’s qualifying reasons and leave type. Custom reports help calculate employee payments.

The experts at BPHR, our HR consulting service, provide guidance in understanding the interplay between federal and state sick laws, notifying workers about potential unemployment insurance eligibility resulting from the new laws, and protecting against discrimination and retaliation claims.

Schedule an appointment to learn more.

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