On March 18, President Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) into law and the requirements officially went into effect yesterday, April 1. The legislation requires businesses with fewer than 500 employees to provide 12 weeks of job-protected family and medical leave and two weeks of paid sick leave for coronavirus-related reasons.
While these mandates are for businesses with fewer than 500 employees, companies with fewer than 50 employees can request a hardship exemption from the Department of Labor (DOL) from certain provisions. In addition, employers qualify for dollar-for-dollar reimbursement through tax credits for all qualifying wages paid under the FFCRA.
This week, the DOL provided additional guidance on the FFCRA. Of importance to Big “I” members, they provided clarity on the provision allowing an exemption for some employers with fewer than 50 employees.
Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees will be eligible for an exemption from the leave requirements relating to school closings or childcare unavailability where the circumstances would jeopardize the ability of the business to continue operations. The DOL provided the following three examples:
- The provision of paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave would result in the small business’s expenses and financial obligations exceeding available business revenues and cause the small business to cease operating at a minimal capacity.
- The absence of the employee or employees requesting paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave would entail a substantial risk to the financial health or operational capabilities of the small business because of their specialized skills, knowledge of the business, or responsibilities.
- There are not sufficient workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available at the time and place needed to perform the labor or services provided by the employee or employees requesting paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave, and these labor or services are needed for the small business to operate at a minimal capacity.
For more information on the requirements of FFCRA from the DOL, including helpful fact sheets, a lengthy FAQ section, and a webinar with a planned release on Friday, April 3, visit the DOL website.
Additionally, the Big “I” has additional resources on implementing FFCRA requirements.
Wyatt Stewart is Big “I” senior director of federal government affairs.