Thursday, June 25, 2020

Coronavirus Update 6–25–2020: Are employees taking paid leave under the FFCRA? — the results

The results are in from my survey on the prevalence of employee leave under the FFCRA. Of those employers that are covered by the FFCRA:

  • 86 percent have an FFCRA policy
  • 59 percent train employees on the FFCRA
  • 74 percent have had an employee take leave under the FFRCA

While these numbers suggest that employees are using the statute, the training gap troubles me. The fact that many employers aren't training their employees on the FFCRA suggests that there are knowledge gaps that could lead to employees not understanding the rights that they have, or supervisors and managers not understanding what to do when employees exercise those rights.

Mistakes under the FFCRA have consequences. Indeed, just yesterday, a FedEx contractor in Austin, Texas, agreed to pay $800 to settle a complaint brought by the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division that it had wrongfully denied paid sick leave to an employee ordered by his health care provider to self-quarantine. The contractor, which has less than 500 employees, believed the FFCRA did not cover it since FedEx (clearly with 500 employees or more) was not covered. 

That settlement is one of many announced by the DOL over the past two months. For example.

  • City of North Branch, MN: $1,696 to an employee denied paid sick leave after her healthcare provider recommended a 14-day quarantine, and when her child's care provider became unavailable due to coronavirus-related reasons.
  • Manhat Trucking of Avon, Indiana: $3,017 to an employee denied emergency paid sick leave while experiencing coronavirus symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis.
  • Discount Tire Centers: $2,606 to an employee advised to self-quarantine while awaiting a family member's test for coronavirus
  • USPS: $3,680 to an employee denied paid sick leave for time spent home caring for her child whose school closed
  • New Mexico Human Services Department: $1,411 to an employee who sought leave to care for her three young children whose school closed

In each of these cases, the employer's violation resulted from a lack of knowledge, not from an intent to violate the law. 

It's not enough to just have a policy. Training is vital. If your employees don't understand what the policy means, you might as well not have it all.

*  Photo by Isaac Smith on Unsplash