A temporary rule issued April 1 provides answers to at least some questions employers have regarding relief offered through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)—a measure that provides both paid sick leave and paid family and medical leave for workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The rule, which will be in effect through December 31, outlines how both workers and employers will benefit from the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act, both part of the FFCRA.
The FFCRA, which covers employers with fewer than 500 employees, provides tax credits to reimburse employers for the cost of providing paid leave for the reasons specified in the law.
The new temporary rule provides answers to at least some of the questions employers have about how those payments and reimbursements will work, according to Richard Rainey, an attorney with Womble Bond Dickinson (US) LLP in Charlotte, North Carolina.
“One question that many of our clients had is what documentation they can require from an employee to verify that an emergency sick leave is required. The regulations provide an answer,” Rainey says. “The practical question is how far you are willing to go to make employees to jump through these hoops or whether you err on the side of accepting employee claims at face value.”
Rainey also points out that it’s easy for employers to focus on whether an employee qualifies for emergency sick leave and the enhanced family and medical leave the law provides.
“But what may be even more important is to make sure the employer qualifies for a tax credit for these benefits,” Rainey says. The new regulations provide that employers may request employees to provide material the employer needs to support a request for tax credits. “If the employee does not comply, the employer is not required to provide leave,” he says.
Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA). This part of the FFCRA requires employers to provide paid sick leave to employees unable to work for six reasons related to COVID-19. The temporary rule lists those reasons for employees as:
- Being subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order;
- Having been advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine;
- Experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis;
- Caring for an individual who is subject to a quarantine or isolation order;
- Caring for a child whose school or day care has been closed by COVID-19; or
- Experiencing any other substantially similar condition.
Among other things, the rule states covered employers that fail to provide the required paid sick leave are considered to have failed to pay minimum wages in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The EPSLA also prohibits employers from discharging, disciplining, or otherwise discriminating against an employee who takes paid sick leave under the Act.
The law covers employers with fewer than 500 employees, but employers with fewer than 50 employees may apply for an exemption if the law’s requirement would “jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern.” The law applies to employees of covered employers regardless of how long an employee has worked for an employer, except that employers may exclude employees who are healthcare providers or emergency responders from taking paid sick leave. Continue reading here…
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Source: HR Daily Advisor