March 27, 2020

New Obligations For California Businesses Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Concept of Covid-19 on wooden cubes

The “Families First Coronavirus Response Act” (“Act”) became law on March 18, 2020. While it is a very lengthy and comprehensive bill, we will be focusing on the implications this bill has on California business owners that have employees. Note that this bill goes into effect on April 2, 2020 and is in effect through the end of the year.  

Guiding labor laws in California is already challenging for small business owners and this bill will add to that. You need a trusted advisor on your side from Beverly Hills Law Corp that can help you navigate California employment laws and how you as a Los Angeles business owner must comply with them.  

The FMLA is a common basis for employees to take leave in California and it applies to businesses that have over 50 employees.  

The Act amends the FMLA to allow an employee who is unable to work to take leave due to a need to care for the employee’s child (under 18 years of age) if the child’s school or place of care has been closed, or the childcare provider is unavailable, due to a “public health emergency.” A public health emergency is defined as an emergency with respect to COVID-19 declared by a federal, state, or local authority.

Paid sick leave is a frequently tricky issue for employers in California. A Beverly Hills employment lawyer from Beverly Hills Law Corp can expertly help you figure out whether or not your employee is entitled to paid sick leave, and this remains true with regards to this new Act.  

The Act adds a paid sick leave obligation. Employers with fewer than 500 employees must immediately make available 80 hours of paid sick leave for full-time employees if the employee is subject to a quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19; if the employee has been advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19; if the employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis; if the employee is caring for an individual who is subject to an order as described above; if the employee is caring for their child if the school or place of care of the child has been closed, or the childcare provider of the child is unavailable, due to COVID-19 precautions; if the employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor.

As can be seen from the above, there are numerous reasons pursuant to which paid sick leave could apply to an employee of a California business during this pandemic. An employment and business attorney from Beverly Hills Law Corp can help you interpret your situation and advise as to how to deal with employees that are seeking leave. 

Further, as a California business owner, note that if an employee takes a leave in accordance with the foregoing, the FMLA’s requirement that an employee be restored to the same or equivalent position after leave does not apply to a California employer with fewer than 25 employees if the employee’s position no longer exists due to economic conditions or other changes in the employer’s operations that affect employment and are caused by the public health crisis during the period of leave.

You must make reasonable efforts to restore the employee to the same or an equivalent position, and if the reasonable efforts fail, the employer must make efforts to contact the employee and reinstate the employee if an equivalent position becomes available within a one-year period beginning on the earlier of (a) the date on which the qualifying need related to a public health emergency concludes, or (b) the date that is 12 weeks after the date the employee’s leave started.

As one can imagine, this Act and compliance with it is very subjective in certain respects and it can lead to potential litigation. We have litigated related issues previously and can help you, the Los Angeles small business owner, figure out what your rights and remedies are in this situation.  Our outside general counsel program gives you access to a monthly, regular, general counsel that can be on your team during this pandemic and in the future.

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