- DeFranco & Sons, a Los Angeles-based produce company, has paid $6000 to resolve a claim that it denied paid sick leave to five workers after they were diagnosed with the coronavirus, according to a Dec. 23 U.S. Department of Labor statement.
- The department’s Wage and Hour Division determined after an investigation that the company violated the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) by failing to pay the employees for the time they needed to be absent from work.
- The company agreed to comply with FFCRA requirements in the future, according to DOL.
The FFCRA is a temporary, emergency federal law that last year required employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide up 80 hours of paid sick leave if an employee could not work because of COVID-19 symptoms, treatment or quarantine. The law also temporarily expanded the Family and Medical Leave Act for employers with fewer than 500 employees to guarantee paid leave if, for example, an employee had to care for a child whose school or daycare was unavailable due to COVID-19. The law expired Dec. 31, 2020, and the paid leave requirement was replaced by tax credits for employer-provided paid leave.
Paid sick leave might be useful in slowing the spread of the coronavirus, some say. A research paper published in the December 2020 issue of Health Affairs found that states where workers gained access to paid sick leave via the FFCRA saw a "statistically significant" 400 fewer confirmed cases of COVID-19 per day, or roughly one prevented case per day per 1,300 workers.
HR consulting firm Mercer concluded in a Nov. 20 report that, as COVID-19 surges in the U.S., forward-thinking employers will prioritize adaptable leave policies, safety, long-term flexibility, caregiving support and health and well-being. Mercer suggested employers think about these objectives in the context of a broader leave program and consider a "new, more sustainable approach to PTO" and leave policies that coordinate with emergency COVID-19 related leave mandated by federal, state and local governments. DOL also has encouraged employers to adopt flexible leave policies to help combat the spread of the coronavirus.