Families First Coronavirus Response Act Creates Significant Requirements for Small Employers
- The FFCRA went 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 FAQs 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, employees with ill 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 it 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 under a federal, state, or local “stay at home” order.
- Employees are not eligible for leave if involved in furloughs or temporary layoffs.
This link will answer all questions regarding where, how, and whom to provide notice under the law. Additionally, the 59-question “FAQ” document is reviewed to answer essential questions such as whether all leave under the FMLA is now paid (the answer is no). Syntrio strongly recommends that employers of all sizes review the notice FAQ document to ensure compliance with the FFCRA’s employee notice requirements. 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 essential to note that the DOL has revised the FAQ document three times in the past week, adding more questions and answers each time. This indicates a significant amount of attention paid to this law and important concerns from employers. Such a problem cuts both ways. On the 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 enforce the new law. This can affect multiple areas of litigation for many years, given the likely string of lawsuits claiming discrimination for attempts to take leave under the FFCRA.