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THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR CRACKS DOWN ON EMPLOYERS NOT PROVIDING SICK LEAVE UNDER THE FAMILIES FIRST CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE ACT
April 28, 2020


All information in this COVID-19 Response Resource issue is effective as of April 28, 2020.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is stepping in to enforce new laws requiring employers to provide employees paid sick leave for reasons related to COVID-19. On April 23, 2020, the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division issued a press release indicating that, after conducting an investigation into an electrical company based in Tucson, Ariz., it ordered the company to pay an employee $1,600. The DOL found that the employer had refused to provide the employee paid sick leave “after health care providers ordered him to self-quarantine with potential coronavirus symptoms.”[1] The $1,600 represents the employee’s hourly rate of $20 multiplied by the 80 hours of sick leave he was entitled to. The company agreed to abide by the laws going forward, and no penalty was imposed.

On April 1, 2020, the DOL announced new forms of relief for employees under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The FFCRA contains two provisions requiring employers to provide sick leave to employees under certain circumstances: The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA). Generally, private employers with fewer than 500 employees are subject to these laws.

Under the EPSLA, employers are required to provide “up to 80 hours of paid sick leave to employees who need to take leave from work for certain specified reasons related to COVID-19.”[2] Qualifying reasons for taking leave include situations where: (1) an employee or someone the employee cares for “is subject to a government quarantine order or has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine”; (2) the employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeks medical attention; or (3) the employee must care for his or her child “whose school or place of care is closed or whose child care provider is unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.”[3] 

Under the EFMLEA, employers are required to provide employees who have been employed at least 30 days[4] up to 10 weeks of paid and two weeks unpaid leave if the employee is caring for his or her child “whose school or place of care is closed or whose child care provider is unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.”[5]

These provisions apply to leave taken between April 1, 2020, and Dec. 31, 2020.[6]  Notably, employers will receive tax credits to help offset the cost of providing the required paid leave to employees.[7]

For questions, please contact Christina Jepson by sending an email to cjepson@parsonsbehle.com or call (801) 536-6820.    

 

[1] https://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/whd/whd20200423?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term= (last visited Apr. 24, 2020).

[2] https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/ffcra (last visited Apr. 24, 2020).

[3] Id.

[4] https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-employer-paid-leave (last visited Apr. 24, 2020). However, “[s]mall businesses with fewer than 50 employees may qualify for exemption from the requirement to provide leave due to school closings or child care unavailability if the leave requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern.” Id.

[5] https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/ffcra (last visited Apr. 24, 2020). For rules regarding rates of pay required under the EPSLA and EFMLEA, refer to this DOL information sheet.

[6] https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-questions (last visited Apr. 24, 2020).

[7] https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/ffcra (last visited Apr. 24, 2020).