Each week brings more clarity around implementation of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). This bill offered mandatory paid leave for employees, tax credits to reimburse employers for the cost of this leave, and funding to support the unemployment insurance system. Recently the US Department of Labor issued additional answers to frequently asked questions, many of which directly impact household employers and their employees. Among them:
Stay-At-Home Orders Qualify As A Quarantine
Clarity on what qualifies as a Federal, State, or local government-ordered quarantine has been a subject of much discussion, but most attorneys have advised that stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders may not entitle an employee to paid leave. The new FAQs explicitly state that, “for purposes of the FFCRA, a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order includes shelter-in-place or stay-at-home orders, issued by any Federal, State, or local government authority” (See FAQ #60). This means that employees who could and would work if not for the government order are entitled to Emergency Paid Sick Leave.
No Exemption From Paid Leave Requirements For Household Employers
There is no explicit exemption for household employers. While employers with less than 50 employees can apply for exemption, they must demonstrate that providing the mandatory paid leave would impose an undue burden. The business must certify that financial burdens or staffing needs would jeopardize the viability of the business. This is likely to be a challenge for a household, and given that employer tax credits provided in FFCRA should reimburse the cost, we recommend providing employees paid leave whenever possible. See FAQ #58 for more information.
FFCRA Paid Leave and Unemployment Benefits Don’t Overlap
Generally, you cannot receive FFCRA paid leave while also collecting unemployment benefits. Employees receiving paid leave under FFCRA are still employed. See FAQ #29 for more information.