In response to the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19), Federal and State governments pass the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), guaranteeing workers job protection and financial compensation in the event they, or their dependents, are impacted by an order of quarantine or isolation.
Most employees will get financial compensation by using a combination of benefits, which may include new employer-provided paid sick leave (depending on the size of the employer), Paid Family Leave and disability benefits.
SICK AND FAMILY LEAVE ALERTS
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), the initial package of a coronavirus relief legislation, was signed into law Wednesday, March 18th. The legislation includes
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
As provided under the FFCRA legislation, the U.S. Department of Labor will be issuing implementing regulations. Additionally, the Department will continue to provide compliance assistance to employers and employees on their responsibilities and rights under the FFCRA. The most up-to-date information from the Department of Labor can be found here:
Layoff: This is a temporary separation from payroll. This usually happens because there is no available work for the employee to complete. The expectation is that the employee will be called back to work when it becomes available, but the timeframe of return is unclear. Employees are typically able to collect unemployment benefits subject to state qualifications. Employers may maintain employee benefits during temporary layoff periods as an incentive for employee to return, but this is not required.
Furlough: This is a mandatory suspension of work without pay. It can come as a reduction in hours across a workforce, or at specific intervals; and is considered an alternative option to layoffs. Furloughed employees are banned from doing any work on behalf of their employer under a zero-tolerance rule. Typically, the time-frame for a furlough is fixed, and employees know exactly when they will return to work. It is customary for an employer to maintain employee benefits during a furlough. Employees subject to furlough generally qualify for unemployment, but collection of benefits is subject to state qualifications.
Shared Work Arrangement: This is a little-known feature of the unemployment law in Mn and can be used as an alternative to layoffs. The employer reduces hours by at least 20% but no more than 50%, for a specific list of employees who have been employed at least 1 year. Those affected then collect reduced unemployment benefits based on the hours lost. MN Employers must continue to provide employee benefits during the arrangement. This can lessen the impact of an hours reduction for employees. Employers must file a work sharing plan with the state and have it approved to qualify for this program. When on an approved work sharing arrangement, employees are not required to meet typical availability, seeking work, or refusal of work requirements enforced by the state. They simply must be available for their regular work week.
Reduction in workforce: This is a permanent elimination of a position with no intention of replacement. The result is a permanent reduction of employee headcount for the employer.
Unemployment eligibility is evaluated on whether or not a worker has earned wages, not whether they are still employed. Workers who have been given zero-hour schedules, but have not been laid off or furloughed are still eligible for unemployment. Workers who have had their hours reduced can also qualify for partial unemployment in some states.
This order expands eligible individuals to include persons who:
- Have temporarily or permanently lost their job or had their hours reduced due to COVID-19
- This can include job loss based on contraction of COVID-19 or as a result of employer actions related to COVID-19
- the hours reductions must be substantial – putting employees below 32 hours a week
- this includes employees placed on furlough
- Have been recommended or ordered by a healthcare professional or health authority to avoid contact with others due to COVID-19 (this can be due to the risk to others or the risk to the individual (e.g., someone immunocompromised);
- Have been instructed by their employer not to come to their workplace due to an outbreak of COVID-19;OR
- Have received notification from a school district, daycare, or other childcare provider that either classes are canceled or the applicant’s ordinary childcare is unavailable, IF
- the applicant made reasonable effort to obtain other childcare;
- requested time off or other accommodation from the employer; and
- no reasonable accommodation was available.
- Relieves taxpaying employers of benefit charges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. This means that your UI tax rate will not increase if your workers collect unemployment benefits because of COVID-19.
- Waives the usual five-week benefit limitation for business owners who had previously elected coverage and have become unemployed as a result of COVID-19.
Pursuant to the Executive Order, the requirement that unemployment applicants wait a week in order to be eligible for benefits has been waived through December 31, 2020.
Employees will not be required to search for work that poses a risk to their health or the health of others, and employees who are only temporarily out of work will not be required to search for new employment at all. Instead, employees who are only temporarily out of work will be allowed to meet the statutory search-for-work requirement by simply keeping in touch with their employer during this time.
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For Questions on Sick Leave, Family Leave, and Employer Resources:
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