DOL Enforces Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act Provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act
Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”), businesses with fewer than 500 employees must provide up to 80 hours of paid sick leave benefits if employees need leave to comply with a self-quarantine order or care for their own or someone else’s coronavirus-related issues. The FFCRA also provides emergency paid family leave for parents who cannot work because their children’s schools or childcare services are closed due to the pandemic. On April 20, 2020, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) announced the end of the non-enforcement period of paid leave protections under the FFCRA. Since then, the DOL has issued enforcement orders requiring employers to compensate employees where the employer wrongly denied emergency paid sick leave for a qualifying reason covered under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (“EPSLA”).
First, a West Point, Georgia, custom machine and fabrication company paid $1,600 to an employee after the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division (“WHD”) determined the employer wrongly denied emergency paid sick leave for a qualifying reason covered under the EPSLA provisions of the FFCRA. The WHD found that the employer denied the employee emergency paid sick leave despite a healthcare provider’s recommendation to self-quarantine while awaiting test results for the coronavirus.
Second, a Maryland electrical contractor was required to reinstate an employee after the WHD found that the employer denied paid sick leave under the EPSLA. The WHD determined that the electrical contractor violated the FFCRA when it denied an employee’s request for paid leave to care for a child when the coronavirus pandemic closed their school. Instead, the electrical contractor terminated the employee. After contact by the WHD, the contractor reinstated the employee, provided paid leave, and agreed to comply with the law in the future.
Third, an electrical company based in Tucson, Arizona, was ordered to compensate an employee who was denied paid sick leave after he showed coronavirus symptoms and was told by a doctor to self-quarantine. The employer was ordered to pay the worker $1,600, which covered his full wages for 80 hours of leave.
The DOL has stated that the FFCRA, enables employers to keep their workers on their payrolls, while at the same time ensuring that workers are not forced to choose between their paychecks and the public health measures needed to combat the virus.
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