Introduction to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act
On March 18, 2020, President Donald Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) into law. Among other things, the FFCRA requires certain employers to provide its employees with paid leave for qualifying reasons related to COVID-19. Notably, both the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (“EPSLA”) and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (“EFMLEA”) permit employers to exclude “health care providers” from taking the contemplated leave. However, the FFCRA also uses the term “health care provider” in the context of emergency paid sick leave regarding who can advise individuals to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.
On April 6, 2020, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) published temporary regulations explaining the provisions of the FFCRA, including who is considered a “health care provider” for purposes of giving advice and for purposes of being exempt from taking leave under the FFCRA.
Who is a “health care provider” for purposes of determining who can advise individuals to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19?
Under the EPSLA, employees are permitted to take paid sick leave if they are advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19. In this context, the DOL defined “health care provider” as a licensed doctor of medicine, nurse practitioner, or other health care provider permitted to issue a certification for purposes of the Family and Medical Leave Act.
Who is a “health care provider” for purposes of determining who can be excluded from the provisions of the FFCRA?
While the definition of “health care provider” used to determine who can give advice is narrow and straight-forward, the definition used to determine who can be excluded from the provisions of the FFCRA is much more expansive. Employers are permitted to exempt the following “health care providers” from the EPSLA and EFMLEA: anyone employed by a doctor’s office, hospital, health care center, clinic, post-secondary educational institution offering health care instruction, medical school, local health department or agency, nursing facility, retirement facility, nursing home, home health care provider, any facility that performs laboratory or medical testing, pharmacy, or any similar institution, employer, or entity.
Additionally, in this context, “health care provider” also includes: any individual employed by an entity that contracts with any of these institutions described above to provide services or to maintain the operation the facility where that individual’s services support the operation of the facility; any individual employed by any entity that provides medical services, produces medical equipment, tests, drugs, vaccines, diagnostic vehicles, or treatments; and any individual that the highest official of a state or territory determines is a “health care providers” necessary for that state or territory’s response to COVID-19.
If you feel your rights under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act have been violated, or if you have any questions regarding your employment rights, please contact the experienced Birmingham employment law attorneys at Michel | King. You can contact us either online or by calling us at (205) 319-9724.