Ward Law LLC is dedicated to keeping our clients informed about all things COVID-19 related. Our business is to ensure that you have all the information you need to keep your business going. In that regard, please read below for updates on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act Small Business Exemptions.
Exemptions for Small Businesses from New Paid Sick Leave and Family Leave Requirements
Last week, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA” or “the Act”) was passed and signed into law. The Act goes into effect on April 2nd and provides for emergency paid leave under the Emergency Sick Leave Act. The FFCRA also enlarges the benefits related to family leave by expanding the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”). There are various qualifications and levels of paid leave, which have been discussed in our Ward Report. However, we have received several questions related to the FFCRA and whether there are provisions for exempting a business from the new paid leave requirements. Many businesses, especially smaller businesses, have grave concerns regarding their continued viability in the current COVID-19 world. These concerns are compounded by the FFCRA since employers are the ones who will being covering paid leave, although the Act indicates they will be reimbursed by way of tax exemptions. Fortunately, there is a ray of hope for small businesses, although the details and logistics for an exemption are unknown at this time.
Under the FFCRA, there are provisions that would exempt small businesses (fewer than 50 employees) from some of the requirements of the FFCRA. The Secretary of Labor has been given authority to issue regulations for those exemptions. In the FMLA Expansion, the Secretary of Labor may exempt a small business from providing the expanded leave and paid leave when the imposition of the new leave requirements would jeopardize the ongoing viability of the business. Likewise, with the Emergency Sick Leave Act, the Secretary of Labor may exempt small businesses from the qualifying reason of an employee having to be on leave to care for a minor child in the event of a school closure or day care provider impossibility when the imposition of such requirements would jeopardize the ongoing viability of the business. It should be noted that some commentators have opined that the Secretary of Labor has no requirement to issue regulations as it relates to possible exemptions from the Emergency Sick Leave Act, so those paid leave requirements may be more expansive for small businesses than those for the FMLA expansion.
The Secretary of Labor is supposed to issue the small business exemption regulations, which will presumably set forth in more detail the requirements and logistics for obtaining those exemptions, on March 25th. The FFCRA goes into effect on April 2nd, so, at the very least, we should have some clarity by the time the Act becomes effective.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact us at Ward Law anytime.