Federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

HR 6201 Families First Coronavirus Response SUMMARY 

HR 6201 Families First Coronavirus Response Paid Sick Leave 

Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Employee Expanded Family and Medical Leave Rights US Department of Labor

Municipal Communications on Employees, Staffing, etc.

Madison To Employees: Guidance on City Services and Paid Leave March 16, 2020 

General FAQs

The following Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) are answered in generality. Your municipality may have policies that specifically address questions regarding sending employees home sick and paid leave. In all cases your organization policies, handbook, or collective bargaining agreement should be followed over the following recommendations.

Note also that the information contained here should not be interpreted as legal advice and does not constitute an attorney client relationship. The League’s staff do not provide legal representation to individual municipalities or officials, and we always encourage our member municipalities to consult their municipal attorneys on questions of law.

Q: What can I do as an employer to slow the spread of COVID-19?

A: In addition to increasing the intensity and frequency of cleaning, employers may consider work from home options for their staff. Also, now is the time to review your business continuation plans as well as policies regarding leave and paid time off.

Q: Am I required to provide work from home option to employees.

A: Not at this time, however, work from home options are highly recommended to increase social distancing in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. Working from home may not feasible for all positions, in this case, employees should review the CDC’s guidelines on slowing the spread of COVID-19.

Q: Can I send an employee home who exhibits symptoms of COVID-19?

A: Yes, you can send an employee home who exhibits symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, or fatigue, much as you would for a cold or flu. You can ask them to stay home until they are symptom free. Employees should follow the recommended advice of the CDC and public health officials. More information form the CDC available here.

Q: Can I share if an employee is being tested or has been tested positive for COVID-19?

A: No, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prevents sharing of employee personal health information. However, employees should be notified that a possible exposure has occurred in the workplace without giving away the identity of the individual being tested. ADA is applicable to employers with 15 or more employees.

Q: What should I do if an employee shares that they potentially have been exposed to COVID-19?

A: The CDC recommends that anyone exposed to COVID-19 self quarantine for 14 days. Employers can require an employee who has been exposed to the virus stay home for 14 days.

Q: Do I have to pay sick leave for employees who are affected by COVID-19 and do not have sick leave to use?

A: As of March 19, 2019 the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) expands existing Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) by guaranteeing individuals employed in the public sector two weeks of paid sick leave through their employer to care for themselves due to the effects of COVID-19. The amount of hours of paid sick time to which an employee is entitled shall be as follows: (1) For full-time employees, 80 hours; (2) For part-time employees, a number of hours equal to the number of hours that such employee works, on average, over a 2-week period. Employers are permitted to make exceptions for emergency responders and health care providers. To find out how these provisions directly apply to your municipality see the full text of FFCRA here.

The non-partisan Wisconsin Legislative Council released an Issue Brief Paid Sick Leave and Emergency Family and Medical Leave Related to COVID-19. (PDF) March 27, 2020

Q: Can I take an employee’s temperature?

A:  According to an updated guideline from the EEOC, “Generally, measuring an employee’s body temperature is a medical examination. Because the CDC and state/local health authorities have acknowledged community spread of COVID-19 and issued attendant precautions, employers may measure employees’ body temperature. However, employers should be aware that some people with COVID-19 do not have a fever.” Employers should maintain as much confidentiality as possible with personal health information. March 18, 2020

Q: Can I require employees have day care while working at home?

A: Yes, employees working remotely should not be responsible for care of children or other persons during working hours. Requiring an employee have a care provider available during meetings and conferences is a reasonable expectation.

Q: Can I require an employee provide a doctor’s note before returning to work?

A: If an employee has disclosed a medical reason for paid or unpaid leave, you may require a doctor’s note upon their return. However, the medical system is likely overtaxed at this time and a doctor’s note may not be easily available.

Q: Can I require employees notify me of their personal travel plans?

A: Employers cannot restrict employee personal travel, however, at this time travel is highly discouraged by the CDC, Federal and State officials.

Q: Should I require staff returning from personal or business travel to self quarantine for 14 days?

A: To the extent it does not cause an undue hardship for the municipality, it is recommended that local governments follow the guidelines of the WI Department of Administration for State Employees traveling as of Thursday, March 12, 2020. “Employees who travel personally or are required for business purposes to travel to a state that has sustained community transmission, as determined by the CDC, on the date prior to travel, will not be allowed to return to their workplace for 14 calendar days after your return.”

Q: Are employees eligible for unemployment benefits if we decide to temporarily shutdown of layoff employees?

A: Eligibility for unemployment insurance is determined by the state. The purpose of such insurance is to provide benefits to workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own and meet eligibility requirements. Generally, shutdowns and layoffs meet those requirements.  More information on the Department of Workforce Development website.