Note 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.
Federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
**The FFRCA has expired**
As of December 31, 2020, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and the programs it established, Expanded FMLA Leave and Paid Emergency Sick Leave, have expired. Municipal employers may choose, but are not required, to continue to provide FFRCA-type leave to employees. However, municipal employers who voluntarily continue providing such leave will no longer be exempt from paying the employer-share of FICA taxes for wages paid under the leave. Any tax treatment extension of the FFCRA applies only to private sector employers. Information provided on this page relating to the FFCRA is for reference only.
HR 6201 Families First Coronavirus Response SUMMARY
HR 6201 Families First Coronavirus Response Paid Sick Leave
Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Employee Paid Leave Rights US Department of Labor
FFCRA Webinar from US Department of Labor The DOL Wages and Hours Division (WHD) invites webinar viewers to call the agency’s toll-free help line at 866-4US-WAGE to speak with a trained WHD professional about any questions they may have.
Sample Employee Policy and Guidance
Sample Employee Policy and Guidance (Revised 9.18.20)
At this time, a policy is not required to implement paid leave under the FFCRA. This sample policy has been prepared for municipalities choosing to use a policy and to provide a more detailed explanation of the FFCRA’s requirements than contained in the Department of Labor’s Notice poster. Note, municipalities are permitted, but not required, to exempt emergency responders from paid leave under the FFCRA. This sample policy excludes emergency responders. See “Considerations for Use of Sample Policy (Revised)” on the first page for additional information. Read the sample policy here. (PDF) September 18, 2020.
Sample FFCRA Employee Leave Request Form - Thanks to R&R Insurance
This is a sample only and it must be modified to suit the particular policies of your organization. Thank you to R&R Insurance for allowing our members to use their form. Sample form here. (PDF)
FAQs Related to Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
** The FFCRA expired as of December 31, 2020. Any information on this page related to FFCRA is for reference only.
Q: Who is an “emergency responder” under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)?
A: “For the purposes of employees who may be excluded from paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave by their employer under the FFCRA, an emergency responder is an employee who is necessary for the provision of transport, care, health care, comfort, and nutrition of such patients, or whose services are otherwise needed to limit the spread of COVID-19. This includes but is not limited to military or national guard, law enforcement officers, correctional institution personnel, fire fighters, emergency medical services personnel, physicians, nurses, public health personnel, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, emergency management personnel, 911 operators, public works personnel, and persons with skills or training in operating specialized equipment or other skills needed to provide aid in a declared emergency as well as individuals who work for such facilities employing these individuals and whose work is necessary to maintain the operation of the facility. This also includes any individual that the highest official of a state or territory, including the District of Columbia, determines is an emergency responder necessary for that state’s or territory’s or the District of Columbia’s response to COVID-19.
To minimize the spread of the virus associated with COVID-19, the Department encourages employers to be judicious when using this definition to exempt emergency responders from the provisions of the FFCRA.” (Provided by the Federal Dept. of Labor.)
Click here for more DOL guidance regarding the FFCRA.
Q: Are employees of a local health department or agency considered “health care providers” that may be excluded from paid leave under the FFCRA?
A: No. Effective September 16, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division revised the regulations pertaining to paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave provisions of the FFCRA. In particular, the definition of “health care provider” was revised to only include employees who meet the definition of “health care provider” as defined by the Family and Medical Leave Act or who are employed to provide diagnostic services, preventative services, treatment services, or other services that are integrated with and necessary to the provision of patient care which, if not provided, would adversely impact patient care. Based on the revised definition, local health departments no longer meet the definition of health care providers for purposes of being excluded from paid leave under the FFCRA.
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.
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. The CDC has published guidance on options for reduced quarantine periods here.
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: No, The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) expired on December 31, 2020. Municipal employers may choose, but are not required, to continue to provide FFRCA-type leave to employees. However, municipal employers who voluntarily continue providing such leave will no longer be exempt from paying the employer-share of FICA taxes for wages paid under the leave. Any tax benefits from this new employer voluntary leave provision are set to expire March 31, 2021.
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: As of July 13, 2020, State of Wisconsin, Division of Personnel Management advises, “As the COVID-19 virus has reached community spread levels throughout the United States, specific regional travel restrictions are no longer relevant. All in-state business travel, regardless of location, has been limited to essential operational needs where no reasonable alternative is available. Regarding personal travel, all employees should refer to the travel advice available from DHS and the CDC.” CDC guidance on travel found here.
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.