FAMILIES FIRST CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE ACT
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requires certain employers to provide employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. The Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division administers and enforces the new law’s paid leave requirements. These provisions will apply from the effective date through Dec. 31, 2020.
Pearls of wisdom around FFCRA:
- The law applies to any employer with fewer than 500 employees, including healthcare entities. There has been some confusion around this with member organizations thinking the law did not apply to them simply because they provide healthcare services, but this is not the case
- While healthcare (and other) employers with fewer than 500 employees are covered and must post the mandatory DOL FFCRA poster, these employers may elect to exempt employees from FFCRA paid sick leave or expanded FMLA paid leave, or both. Ideally the employer should make its decision about exemptions and communicate them proactively, so any decision to deny leave is not alleged to be discriminatory or retaliatory. An employer’s decision to exempt its employees can be posted together with the DOL poster to help prevent confusion.
- For small businesses of under 50 employees, you may qualify for an exemption from the FFCRA if the employee leave requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern. If you are a small business and qualify for exemption, document the basis for the decision well and be very clear with your employees that the business is exempt.
With thank you to Hancock Daniel LLP for contributions to this slide
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Reasonable Accommodations in COVID-19
- Remember that employers with 15 or more employees are subject to the American With Disabilities Act and “disabilities” are broadly defined to include many common physical and mental impairments.
- If an employee presents a request for accommodation, have a documented interactive discussion with the employee. Failure to do so could be a violation of the Act if the employee has a disability and no interactive process occurs (even if the employee’s request would create an undue hardship).
- Protected employees include: 1) individuals with physical or mental impairments that substantially limit one or more major life activities, 2) a person with a record of a substantially limiting impairment, or 3) a person who is regarded as if s/he has a substantially limited impairment. See https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/guidance/ada-primer-small-business.
- Fear for personal safety or that of a family member alone does not entitle an employee to protection under the ADA or to a reasonable accommodation. However, to maintain a functioning workforce, you may want to consider flexible options whether or not they are legally required.
- Have a written policy to manage requests for reasonable accommodations (see a sample here).
- For a sample Medical Certification Form click here.
Paid Leave Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act
Click here to see the US Dept of Labor’s temporary rule changes related to the pandemic.
For Employed Physicians
Navigating Physician Employment During COVID-19, an AMA Resource
Physician employees of hospitals, health systems and other entities are likely to confront unique challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. Factors such as the financial distress of their employer, changes in clinical service demand, and growing anxiety related to caring for COVID-19 diagnosed patients may complicate the employer-employee relationship. To help physicians navigate the challenges and unique options presented by COVID-19, the AMA has developed a guide of strategic, legal and contractual considerations for employed physicians.