These are unprecedented times. As such, the federal government has taken action to protect the health of workers and their families. In March, Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) to give employees the resources they need to fight COVID-19 and care for their families if certain symptoms arise.
Depending on your circumstances, you may be entitled to paid leave at 2/3 or more of your regular rate. Under FFRCA, employees of certain employers are eligible for:
- Two weeks (or 80 hours) of paid sick leave at the regular rate of pay if the employee is sick or quarantined and therefore unable to work.
- Two weeks (80 hours) of paid sick leave at 2/3 the rate of pay if the employee needs to care for someone with COVID-19 or for their child who cannot attend school or childcare programs due to COVID-19.
- Up to 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave if the employee needs to care for their child because of COVID-19 closures.
For expanded family leave, you must be employed for at least 30 calendar days. Further, only “covered” employers are required to adhere to the FFRCA.
The provisions of the FFRCA apply to many public employers and private employers with fewer than 500 employees. Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees may be exempt if the provisions jeopardize their business, and many federal employees are already covered by Title II of the Family and Medical Leave Act.
Am I Covered?
If you are employed with an eligible employer (see above), you are covered by the FFRCA for up to 2 weeks of paid sick time related to COVID-19. Those who have been with their employer for the last 30 days or longer are covered for up to 10 weeks of paid family leave for childcare reasons related to COVID-19.
In any situation, you must have a qualifying reason for leave.
Situations That Trigger Paid Leave
To claim paid sick leave or paid family and medical leave, you must be unable to work or telework. Qualifying reasons for being unable to work include:
- A Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order
- A recommendation from a health care provider to self-quarantine
- COVID-19 symptoms (cough, fever, shortness of breath, etc.)
- Caring for individuals in isolation or self-quarantine
- Caring for a child who cannot go to school or daycare
- Situations specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services
If childcare is your qualifying reason for leave, you may also be eligible for extended family and medical leave. As we discussed at the beginning of this blog, your rate of pay will depend on how long you leave work and whether you are leaving to care for yourself or a loved one.
What If My Rights to Leave Are Being Violated?
The Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division is responsible for enforcing the new requirements of the FFCRA. You can learn how to file a complaint here.
In addition to notifying the DOL, you may want to recruit an attorney.
Donati Law, PLLC is here to answer any questions you may have and guide you through your employment law concerns.
For committed legal help, please call us at (901) 209-5500 or fill out our employment law questionnaire. We promise to respond promptly and hope to help you through this uncertain time.