The FFCRA (the Families First Coronavirus Response Act) is legislation that was created to provide employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave related to Covid-19. Some of the new legislation is modeled after the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), but there are important differences. The FMLA applies to employers with more than 50 employees. Most small businesses aren’t subject to the Federal FMLA, and because Wisconsin adopts the same 50 employee threshold, these employers do not have to comply with the State FMLA either. But the FFCRA is different. All employers with fewer than 500 employees are subject to the FFCRA. Thus, the reach of the FFCRA is much broader and will apply to virtually all businesses.
The FFCRA requires a qualifying employer to provide up to two weeks of fully or partially paid sick leave to an employee for Covid-19 related reasons. Whether full pay or partial pay (two/thirds of employee’s regular rate of pay) is owed depends on the reason for the leave. Also, although the standard time period to compensate the employee is two weeks (up to 80 hours), there may be circumstances where, depending on the reason for leave, this may be extended up to an additional 10 weeks. The following are Covid-related reasons which would require benefits to be paid:
- someone is subject to a Federal, State or local quarantine order,
- someone has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine,
- someone is caring for a person subject to (1) or (2) above.
- someone is experiencing Covid related symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis,
- someone is caring for a child whose school is closed for Covid reasons.
An employer may qualify for an exemption from the Department of Labor if the leave requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business.
This is a summary of the new law. There hasn’t been time for many Court cases to be filed and resolved to flush out the meaning of all the questions that might arise, but as the Statute does borrow heavily from existing statutes, these may provide guidance on how to comply with the new law. At Rose & deJong we can help your business comply with the new legislation and potentially avoid an enforcement action by the Department of Labor.