Know your Federal employment rights due to COVID 19
Former President Donald Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) on March 18, 2020, to enhance employment rights in Oregon and the rest of the country amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Certain businesses are required under the FFCRA to offer paid sick leave or extended family and medical leave to workers for certain circumstances linked to COVID-19. The Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the Department of Labor (Department) oversees and enforces the law’s paid leave provisions. These provisions initially lasted through December 31, 2020, and from January 1, 2020, the FFCRA’s provisions had become optional. President Biden signed the American Rescue Act Plan of 2021 on March 11, 2021, which extended and expanded the FFCRA in various ways. To begin, it extended the date for the FFCRA’s expiry beyond March 31, and it also extended the paid family leave provision by two weeks. While the FFCRA remains voluntary for qualified employers, businesses now have the option of continuing the program until September 30, 2021. Employers that voluntarily provide FFCRA paid leave benefits during this time will continue to earn dollar-for-dollar tax credits.
In general, the Act stipulates that covered employers’ workers are entitled to the following benefits:
- Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay if the employee is unable to work due to being quarantined (by Federal, State, or local government order or on the advice of a health care provider), and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis.
- Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at two-thirds of the employee’s regular rate of pay if the employee is unable to work due to a bona fide need to care for an individual quarantined (by Federal, State, or local government order or on the advice of a health care provider), or to care for a child whose school is closed or child care provider is unavailable.
- Up to an additional twelve weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave at two-thirds of the employee’s regular rate of pay. To be eligible, the employee must have worked for at least 30 days and cannot work due to a bona fide need for leave to care for a child whose school is closed or child care provider is unavailable due to COVID-19.
Further, under this Act, employees who have been hired for at least 30 days are entitled to an extra ten weeks of paid family leave to care for a child under specific conditions connected to COVID-19.
The Act is specifically applicable to certain public companies and private employers with less than 500 workers. Most federal workers are covered under Title II of the Family and Medical Leave Act, which was not modified by this Act. They, therefore, do not qualify for the FFCRA’s enhanced family and medical leave provisions. The paid sick leave provision, on the other hand, applies to federal workers covered by Title II of the Family and Medical Leave Act.
To encourage immunization and testing, the Act has established two new grounds for workers to be eligible for FFCRA leave, which has started on April 1, 2021:
- Employees cannot work due to receiving a COVID-19 vaccination or recovering from any sickness or ailment linked to the vaccine.
- Employers who are unable to work due to the need for or awaiting the outcome of a diagnostic test.
If you feel unfairly treated at your workplace related to COVID-19, contact Meyer Stephenson.