May 8, 2020
The U.S. Department of Labor is taking action to ensure eligible workers can care for themselves and family members during the Coronavirus pandemic. Under the Family First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), effective through December 31, 2020, many employers must expand paid sick and personal leave for COVID-19-related reasons. Eligible employees could be entitled to two weeks of fully paid sick leave and an additional ten weeks of benefits to care for loved ones or children during school closures.
Even if your employer refused to provide Coronavirus leave, staying safe, preventing the spread of COVID-19, and caring for your children are priorities during this crisis. An experienced federal wage and labor attorney at McClanahan Powers, PLLC may help quarantined workers determine if they’re eligible for FFCRA benefits and, if so, recover back pay for wrongfully denied sick and family leave. Our Virginia & D.C. virtual office is open and ready to assist employees and businesses alike navigate the FFCRA. Call us at 703-520-1326 or contact us online today.
As the name suggested, the FFCRA addresses the immediate health and personal concerns of workers impacted by COVID-19. The Act provides expanded sick and family leave to employees not otherwise covered by Title II of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Eligible employees may qualify for the following three significant benefits:
Employees must notify their employers as soon as possible if they intend to use these benefits, and employers may impose specific administrative follow-up requirements before releasing these benefits. Speak with a qualified employee benefits attorney to discuss the permissibility of these requirements.
The FFRCA covers employers not otherwise subject to certain FMLA provisions. Most public entities and private employers with less than 500 employees must provide FFCRA benefits. The majority of federal agencies and large corporations are already required to provide similar benefits. Small businesses with less than 50 employees must provide at least two weeks of paid sick time, but they may be exempt from providing the ten weeks of childcare leave if it would endanger the business. All employees of covered businesses, whether hourly or salaried, are eligible for expanded COVID-19 leave. However, only employees employed for more than 30 days are eligible for the additional ten weeks of childcare benefits.
Only employees who are unable to work or work for home (telework) are eligible for FFCRA benefits. Employees likely qualify for FFCRA benefits if they are unable to work from home for one or more of the following reasons:
Employees must submit documentation to claim FFCRA benefits except when they’re experiencing symptoms and seeking a diagnosis. Employers may request an explanation as to why a child’s typical care provider is unavailable, why a child over the age of 15 needs care, and proof that a school is closed. Eligible employees must prove they are the primary caretakers of children or ill loved ones, explain the relationship, and submit documentation of a quarantine order. Employers may periodically require updated documentation when paying FFCRA benefits.
The FFCRA only applies to non-furloughed employees of active businesses. Furloughed employees, employees of closed worksites, and employees with reduced hours are not eligible for FFCRA leave. They must generally avail themselves of state unemployment benefits. An employee whose worksite closes while he/she is out on FFCRA leave is no longer entitled to benefits. Employees that requested FFCRA leave before a worksite closed may be eligible for FFCRA benefits if the worksite reopened and rehired the employee.
Speak with a qualified federal labor law attorney today to discuss the latest FFCRA and COVID-19 relief developments. The Department of Labor continues to clarify the Act, and employers may struggle to understand their responsibilities. An experienced Virginia and D.C. employee benefits attorney at McClanahan Powers, PLLC may help you determine whether you’re eligible for emergency Coronavirus leave and assist you with the application process. Our small business lawyers may also help companies with less than 50 employees recognize their responsibilities under the FFRCA. Whether you need help claiming FMLA benefits, expanded leave under the FFRCA, or determining your eligibility for unemployment, contact our virtual office today by calling 703-520-1326 or reaching out to us online.