01 April 2020
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Following the enactment of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act on March 18, 2020, the Department of Labor has clarified which employers will be impacted by the Act and how they can comply with its mandates. Marta Fernandez, hotel lawyer and a partner in JMBM’s Labor & Employment department, has answered some of the most frequently asked questions by employers about the Act which goes into effect on April 1, 2020.
What hotel owners and operators need to know
about employee rights under the FFCRA
Frequently Asked Questions or FAQs about employee rights under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act
Effective April 1, 2020 and continuing through December 31, 2020, covered employers need to begin complying with the mandates of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA” or “Act”). You can find our original article explaining the FFCRA here. Since the law’s enactment on March 18, 2020, the Department of Labor has clarified and expanded upon what precisely is required under the Act and of whom it is required. Below are some of the questions we have been receiving from clients. The answers provided reiterate some of the previously announced requirements, and incorporate the additional guidance that has been issued by the Department.
#1 What obligations do covered employers have under the FFCRA?
Covered employers must provide eligible employees with up to 80 hours of emergency paid sick leave and up to 12 weeks of emergency family and medical leave.
#2 When is an employee eligible to receive paid sick leave under the FFCRA?
Under the FFCRA, a full-time employee may qualify for 80 hours of paid sick leave (or, for a part-time employee – the average number of hours that the employee works over a typical two-week period) where the employee is unable to work, or telework, due to a need for leave because the employee:
- Is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
- Has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19;
- Is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
- Is caring for an individual subject to an order described in (1) or self-quarantine as described in (2);
- Is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) for reasons related to COVID-19; or
- Is experiencing any other substantially-similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of Labor and Treasury.
#3 How much compensation is an employee entitled to receive under the paid sick leave provisions of the FFCRA?
Employees taking leave for reasons 1, 2, or 3, noted above must be paid at either their regular rate or the applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher, with a cap of $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate.
Employees taking leave for reasons 4, 5, or 6 above must be paid at two-thirds their regular rate or two-thirds the applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher, with a cap of $200 per day and $2,000 in the aggregate.
The Department has now clarified that an employee’s regular rate of pay is the average of the employee’s regular rate over a period of six months prior to the date on which he or she takes leave.
#4 Can I require employees to substitute any accrued paid time off for the emergency paid sick leave?
No. While employees may elect to substitute any accrued vacation leave, personal leave, or medical or sick leave for the emergency paid sick leave, you cannot require employees to do so.
#5 What if I’ve already provided my employees with paid leave for a COVID-19 related reason?
The emergency paid sick leave is to be provided in addition to any other paid leave that an employer has already provided to its employees. Thus, leave taken prior to April 1st does not count towards the leave required under the Act.
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