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How does the FFCRA apply to federal employers and employees?

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 employees with paid leave for qualifying reasons related to COVID-19. Generally, the provisions of the FFCRA apply to all private-sector employers with less than 500 employees. On April 6, 2020, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) published temporary regulations expanding and explaining the provisions of the FFCRA. Specifically, the temporary regulations clarify which public sector employers must provide leave under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (“EPSLA”) and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (“EFMLEA”).

Are public sector employees entitled to take emergency paid sick leave?

Generally, government employees of public agencies are entitled to take emergency paid sick leave if they meet one of the six enumerated qualifying reasons for leave listed in the EPSLA. Thus, employees of the federal government, states, cities, municipalities, counties, and other similar government entities, are entitled to paid sick leave. Notably, the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) has the authority to exclude some categories of employees within the United States Government Executive Branch from taking certain types of paid sick leave.

Are public sector employees entitled to take expanded family and medical leave?

While most employees of public agencies are entitled to leave permitted by the EPSLA, entitlement to expanded family and medical leave is not as clear because the EFMLEA only amended part of the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (“FMLA”). Most employees of non-federal public agencies are entitled to expanded family and medical leave, which includes employees of states, cities, municipalities, counties, and other similar governmental entities. Employees of federal public agencies are likely not entitled to expanded family and medical leave because the EFMLEA only amended Title I of the FMLA. Family and medical leave for most federal employees is governed by Title II of the FMLA. Additionally, the OMB has the authority to exclude some categories of employees within the United States Government Executive Branch with respect to expanded family and medical leave.

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 Wrady Michel & King. You can contact us either online or by calling us at (205) 319-9724.