The Department of Labor (DOL) continues to change and add to the question and answer (Q&A) guidance on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). It has grown to 79 questions and answers of as April 8, 2020. That guidance can be found here.
In its Q&A guidance, the DOL is clear that FFCRA paid sick leave is only for employees affected by the COVID-19 pandemic but who would otherwise have work to do. If an employee’s worksite is closed, or the employee is furloughed or has reduced hours because the employer lacks work to be performed, the employee is not eligible for paid sick leave under the FFCRA.
All but a handful of governors have issued some type of stay at home or shelter in place order to attempt to limit the spread of the new coronavirus, and there has been some uncertainty over whether such orders qualified as a “Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19.” The answer affects employee eligibility for emergency paid sick leave under the FFRCA, since being subject to that type of order is one of the qualifying reasons for receiving paid sick leave. In its temporary regulations, published on April 6, 2020, the DOL defined “quarantine or isolation order”” to include “quarantine, isolation, containment, shelter-in-place, or stay-at-home orders issued by any Federal, State or local government.” The DOL also states being “subject to a quarantine or isolation order” includes “when a Federal, State, or local government authority has advised categories of citizens to shelter in place, stay at home, isolate, or quarantine.”
However, consistent with DOL’s Q&A guidance, emergency paid sick leave is only available to employees if their employer has work for them to perform. So, where a stay at home or other qualifying order has closed the employer’s business, and the closure results in there being no work for the employee to do, the employee is not entitled to emergency paid sick leave under the FFCRA.