The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) has provided critical support for employees since it became law on March 18, 2020. The Act expired effective December 31, 2020. However, actions by the employer in 2020 prior to its expiration may have violated the law and remain viable as claims.
Recently, the FFCRA regulations have been revised to address the ongoing needs of employees across the nation. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected millions of workers across multiple industries, and it is important to be aware of what the new FFCRA regulations require covered employers.
Recent Changes in the FFCRA Regulations
The Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) is the government agency that administers the FFCRA regulations detailing paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave provisions for U.S. workers.
Changes to the law were announced on September 11, 2020, after a lawsuit was filed by the State of New York in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. The District Court ruled that four parts of the temporary rule of the FFCRA were invalid.
The changes to the FFCRA regulations that took effect onSeptember 16, 2020, offer improved benefits to employees. The first part of the changes includes four provisions that were vacated, including 29 CFR 826.20, which required “work availability.” This excluded employees that were currently furloughed from being able to take emergency FMLA leave and emergency paid sick leave.
Many employees were furloughed in 2020, suffering much financial hardship. So, this change alone made many more employees eligible for relief during the pandemic. Other vacated provisions relate to the definition “health care provider,” documentation requirements, and requirements of the use of intermittent leave.
What the Changes to FFCRA Regulations Mean for Employees – and Employee Rights
The wording of the law is complicated and may be difficult to understand for people without a legal background. At Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A., we are passionate about employee rights and want to let you know why these changes are so important.
Basically, the changes to the FFCRA regulations clarify workers’ rights and the responsibilities of employers regarding FFCRA paid leave. The paid leave is meant to help relieve financial burdens on employees and their families – and those who qualify have a right to them.
This temporary rule was in effect until December 31, 2020, and helped the United States combat the workplace effects of COVID-19 by reimbursing American private employers that have fewer than 500 employees. You get paid leavefor specified reasons related to COVID-19 – and your employer gets tax credits to offset the cost. Going forward, an employer may elect to offer paid leave consistent with the FFCRA but are not required to do so. Many employers are offering such leave because they can claim a tax credit for voluntarily providing paid leave.
The details per the Department of Labor FFCRA website:
Up to 80 hours of paid sickleave through the administration of the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA), part of the FFCRA, if:
- the employee or someone the employee is caring for is subject to a government quarantine order or has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine;
- the employee is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking medical attention; or,
- the employee is caring for his or her son or daughter whose school or place of care is closed or whose child care provider is unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19
A separate directive, the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA), also part of the FFCRA, required that certain employers provide up to 10 weeks of paid and 2 weeks unpaid emergency family and medical leave to eligible employees. The requirements of this part of the FFCRA are as follows:
- the employee needs to care for his or her child whose place of care or school is closed or whose child care provider is unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19
As mentioned above, the amendments to the FFCRA were effective through December 31, 2020.
Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A. – Employment Lawyers
We are experienced in protecting the rights of employees and are dedicated to giving you the latest information relevant to you and your family. New relief may be coming for 2021, and we will keep you informed on your employee rights. We are here for you for any employment law needs you may have regarding family and medical leave or other employee rights issues.