Our firm used to do a lot of employee rights cases, but we reduced that area of practice when we elected to focus on foreclosure defense and student loan work. Recently though, we have had a few clients with questions about what happens to their income if they or an immediate family member should get sick with COVID-19. One of our attorneys suggested I post the following to help answer these questions:
WHAT ARE YOUR RIGHTS UNDER THE FAMILY FIRST CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE ACT (FFCRA)?
The Act requires certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons relating to COVID-19. These provisions are applicable between April 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020.
► ELIGIBLE EMPLOYEES. In general, employees of private sector employers with fewer than 500 employees, and certain public sector employers, are eligible for up to two weeks of fully or partially paid sick leave for COVID-19 related reasons. Employees who have been employed for at least 30 days prior to their leave request may be eligible for up to an additional 10 weeks of partially paid expanded family and medical leave.
► QUALIFYING REASONS FOR LEAVE RELATED TO COVID-19. An employee is entitled to take leave related to COVID-19 if the employee is unable to work, including unable to telework, because the employee:
- is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
- has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19;
- is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
- is caring for an individual subject to an order described in (1) or self-quarantine as described in (2);
- is caring for his or her child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) due to COVID-19 related reasons;
or 6. is experiencing any other substantially-similar condition specified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
► PAID LEAVE ENTITLEMENTS. Generally, employers covered under the Act must provide employees:
Up to two weeks (80 hours, or a part-time employee’s two-week equivalent) of paid sick leave based on the higher of their regular rate of pay, or the applicable state or Federal minimum wage, paid at:
- 100% for qualifying reasons #1-3 below, up to $511 daily and $5,110 total;
- 2/3 for qualifying reasons #4 and 6 below, up to $200 daily and $2,000 total; and
- Up to 10 weeks more of paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave paid at 2/3 for qualifying reason #5 below for up to $200 daily and $12,000 total. A part-time employee is eligible for leave for the number of hours that the employee is normally scheduled to work over that period. WHO
► ENFORCEMENT. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) has the authority to investigate and enforce compliance with the FFCRA. Employers may not discharge, discipline, or otherwise discriminate against any employee who lawfully takes paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave under the FFCRA, files a complaint, or institutes a proceeding under or related to this Act. Employers in violation of the provisions of the FFCRA will be subject to penalties and enforcement by Wage and Hour Division of U.S. Department of Labor.
Obviously, other problems such as not receiving a final paycheck if laid off, lack of overtime pay and other prohibited labor practices are always actionable under the Fair Labor Standards Act.