- A Georgia-based insurance company has agreed to pay $1599 in back wages to an employee who was denied paid sick leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Wage and Hour Division said Sept. 15.
- Risk & Insurance Consultants Inc. failed to pay an employee who received a healthcare professional’s instructions to self-quarantine because of coronavirus concerns, according to the agency.
- DOL "is protecting the American workforce during the coronavirus pandemic by ensuring employers comply with all of the requirements of the [FFCRA]," said Wage and Hour Regional Administrator Juan Coria in a statement announcing the settlement.
The FFCRA went into effect earlier this year and requires businesses with fewer than 500 employees to provide up 80 hours of paid sick leave if an employee can’t work because of COVID-19, including if they’ve been quarantined or have symptoms of COVID-19 and are seeking a diagnosis. The law also temporarily expanded the Family and Medical Leave Act for employers with fewer than 500 employees to guarantee paid leave if an employee has to care for a child whose school or daycare is closed, or otherwise unavailable, due to COVID-19.
Businesses with fewer than 50 employees can obtain an exemption from providing workers with paid emergency leave "when the imposition of such requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business." Employers can use tax credits to defray the cost of providing paid leave under the law.
While larger employers were excluded from the FFCRA’s requirements, some cities and states have enacted laws mandating that large employers provide COVID-19-related leave. The state of California and many of its cities have been especially active in this area. For example, under an executive order signed by California Gov. Gavin Newson early this spring, grocery store, fast food and farm workers, as well as delivery drivers can receive two weeks of supplemental paid sick leave related to COVID-19. The order applies to employers with more than 500 employees in the U.S. Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti signed an emergency order April 7, requiring employers with 500 or more employees within the city or 2,000 or more employees within the United States to provide paid leave to workers affected by the coronavirus.
Employers with operations in more than one city or state may need to check local and state laws for recently enacted rules regarding emergency leave. Employers also may need to note that DOL has encouraged employers to adopt flexible leave policies to help combat the spread of the coronavirus.