The FFCRA is applicable to private employers that employ fewer than 500 employees. The DOL provided the following clarifications on when and how to count employees for purposes of complying with the FFCRA:
The DOL Q&A specifically provide that workers considered independent contractors under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) are not employees for FFCRA purposes.
The Effect of Furloughs and Site Closings
The DOL has also answered numerous questions regarding the applicability of the FFCRA with respect to furloughs and site closures, including that:
Calculating an Employee’s Rate of Pay Under FFCRA For Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Family and Medical Leave
An employee that takes paid sick leave because he or she is unable to work or telework because he or she (1) is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19; (2) has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19 concerns; or (3) is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking medical diagnosis is entitled to the greater of:
For this two-week period of Paid Sick Leave, employees are entitled to a maximum of $511/day with a cap of $5,110 over the entire paid sick leave period.
If an employee takes paid sick leave because he or she is (1) caring for an individual that is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or has been advised to self-quarantine by a healthcare provider due to COVID-19 concerns; (2) caring for a child whose school or place of care has closed, or childcare providers is unavailable, due to COVID-19 related reasons; or (3) is experiencing any other substantially-similar condition that may arise an employee is entitled to compensation at a rate of 2/3 the maximum of the greater of his or her regular rate of pay, the federal minimum wage, or the applicable state or local minimum wage. The cap on payments for this type of leave is $200/day with a maximum of $2,000 over the two-week period.
An employee that is taking expanded family and medical leave may take paid sick leave for the first ten days of that leave period (or may substitute any accrued PTO under an employer’s policy). For the following ten weeks, the employee is paid 2/3 his or her regular wages with a cap of $200/day and no more than $12,000 for the twelve weeks that include paid sick leave.
An Employee/Employer Can Mutually Choose to Supplement Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Family Medical Leave with Existing PTO
An employee may choose, with the employer’s permission, to supplement his or her Paid Sick Leave or Expanded Family Medical Leave with an employer’s existing PTO, up to that employee’s regular wages. Highly compensated employees may choose this option to obtain full wage replacement. However, employers that permit this practice will not receive a tax credit for leave over the FFCRA cap.
Calculating Payments for Part-Time Employees
The DOL Q&As provide that a part-time employee is entitled to leave in the amount of his or her average number of work hours in a two-week period. Where the number of hours that an employee is unknown or varies, the employer may use a six-month average of the employee’s hours to calculate the average daily hours per week. A part-time employee is then entitled to two weeks of paid sick leave based on this average and may take expanded family and medical leave for the same number of hours per day for ten additional weeks after paid sick leave is exhausted.
Intermittent Leave While Teleworking
An employee may take intermittent leave if an employer permits it and the employee is unable to telework a normal schedule of hours due to one of the qualifying reasons addressed above. Leave may be taken in any increment. For instance, the DOL posits an example where an employer needs a 1 and ½ hour leave in the middle of a workday, which would be compensated if both the employee and employer agree. The DOL expressly encourages employers and employees to collaborate to “achieve flexibility and meet mutual needs” presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Documentation Required by Employees
The DOL Q&As provide that an employee must provide documentation to support the reason why paid leave is required. For example, if an employee requires leave because of a school closure, the employer may require the employee to provide a notice that the school was closed.
The Coronavirus Task Force at Klehr Harrison stands ready to assist you in your business and legal needs. We will continue to provide additional information and guidance as the COVID-19 situation develops.