Families First Coronavirus Response Act Creates Significant Requirements for Small Employers
- The FFCRA goes into effect on April 1, 2020.
- The FFCRA mandates new leave-related benefits due to the Coronavirus’ impact on small employers
Effective April 1, 2020, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) requires employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide many new leave-related benefits. In the past week, the US Department of Labor (“DOL”) has issued multiple rounds of clarifications and FAQ in attempts to clarify the significant changes to the law and associated responsibilities for smaller employers.
Most importantly, the FFCRA provides expanded forms of paid sick leave for employees and, under certain circumstances, for employees with sick family members due to COVID-19. Since the law was passed almost two weeks ago, the DOL has issued three sets of FAQ guidance, bringing the total number of questions answered to 59.
The most notable takeaways from the law and the DOL’s guidance are:
- Employers must post the official notice form containing the requirements of the law in a conspicuous location by April 1, 2020 (or disseminate electronically or via mail).
- Employers must collect documentation from their employees to verify eligibility for benefits under the FFCRA and receive tax credits associated with leave.
- Employees are not eligible for leave if the worksite is closed after April 1, whether due to economic reasons or pursuant to a federal, state or local “stay at home” order.
- Employees are not eligible for leave if involved in furloughs or temporary layoffs.
Syntrio strongly recommends that employers of all sizes review the notice FAQ document to ensure compliance with the FFCRA’s employee notice requirements. This link will answer virtually all questions you may have with regards to where, how and whom to provide notice under the law. Additionally, a review of the 59-question “FAQ” document to answer important questions such as whether all leave under the FMLA is now paid (the answer is no). It is imperative that, as an employer, you have a conversation with your employment counsel to determine a compliance strategy that fits the needs of your business and will ensure that your situation does not place your business in a position where you may violate either the notice or compliance requirements of the FFCRA.
It is extremely important to note that the DOL has revised the FAQ document three times in the past week, each time adding more questions and answers. This indicates a significant amount of attention being paid to this law, as well as significant concern from employers. Such concern cuts both ways. On one hand, it is good to know that employers are paying attention to this law and how it will impact their situation, on the other hand it also means the DOL will enforcing the new law.This can impact multiple areas of litigation for many years given the likely string of lawsuits claiming discrimination for attempts to take leave under the FFCRA.