As you may know, the government has created a new act to protect those employees impacted by the Coronavirus, called The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA Act), beginning on April 2, 2020. It’s important to note that the Coronavirus is not considered a “serious health condition” under the traditional Family Medical Leave Act (better known as FMLA), thus it has own separate set of laws for employers and employees alike to adhere to.
There are two components of this act:
1) Emergency Paid Sick Leave – eligible employees granted up to 2 weeks paid leave
2) Emergency Family Medical Leave - eligible employees granted up to 12 weeks leave; 10 weeks is paid leave since first 10 days is unpaid
After listening to a legal based webinar and reading multiple publications on the topic, the one that I found easiest to digest and understand is through the Department of Labor.
Please heed caution prior to reading up on the FFCRA as it’s not exactly set in stone and still a moving target. The Department of Labor is forewarning those reading it that the Wage and Hour Division is still working on interpreting and examining the law. Since its recent introduction on March 18, 2020, there have been many questions coming up that they are being reconsidered and rewritten as they go. The Department of Labor still has time to make these changes since it doesn’t go into effect till April 2nd. According to the Department of Labor, employers are encouraged to check the website every day for changes. When in doubt, you can always contact the Department of Labor for further clarification on the FFCRA compliance – just be prepared for a decent amount of time on hold waiting for your turn in line.
The Coronavirus Pandemic continues to be a very dynamic and fluid situation. I would imagine as the days go on, we will be seeing a growing number of staff directly impacted by this. Employees are already reaching out to managers and HR as they are starting to plan and looking for reassurance for the imminent disruptions in their own personal lives. Communication and transparency is key, and is important now more than ever to weather any storms that lie ahead. Encourage your employees to keep management and HR apprised if they or their family member falls ill or have issues with childcare coverage so the proper reinforcements can be put into place, including adherence to the FFCRA.
These are stressful times for all, and it’s important we model empathy and flexibility as leaders. Be sure to reach out and connect with your staff more than usual. During your conversations, ask if they need support, or if there’s any way you or the organization can offer help. Remind them that “we are all in this together”. It’s understandable that these are uncharted waters for all of us, yet try to provide reassurance where you can. Your actions as a leader in this unprecedented situation will continue to be remembered long past the time after this crisis is over.