Your Rights as an Employee Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) required certain employers to provide paid leave for employees under certain circumstances related to COVID-19. However, the requirement to provide paid leave under FFCRA expired on December 31, 2020. While some assumed that the provisions would be continued as part of the latest stimulus bill, requirements to provide paid leave were ultimately removed from the last bill’s final form.
Voluntary Paid Leave Under FFCRA Provisions
Even though the required leave provisions have been terminated, employers can voluntarily provide paid leave if they choose to do so. They can still get federal tax credits for payments related to paying paid leave through March 2021. As a result, some employers are choosing to provide employees with this additional benefit.
While the employer can decide whether to provide this benefit, they must still offer it in a fair and non-discriminatory way. If they do not deliver benefits fairly across the board to all employees who qualify, then you may have legal remedies to address their discriminatory actions.
Chicago-Specific Paid Leave Benefits
The City of Chicago has created a new ordinance within the past several months specifically to deal with employees who are unable to work because of COVID-19. If you work at least 80 hours in a 120-day period, you may qualify for Paid Sick Leave. You have one hour of paid time for every 40 hours you have worked.
Paid Sick Leave is available if you are sick or have to assist a sick family member. You can also carry over a portion of your Paid Sick Leave to the following year if you earn more but do not use it over a 12-month period. Your employer cannot retaliate against you by firing you or disciplining you for using your Paid Sick Leave.
Looking Forward: Are Any Additional Benefits Available?
Chicago’s paid sick leave benefit is still in effect. There are also further discussions occurring that will decide whether additional federal benefits will be available. President Biden plans to request that Congress reinstate FFCRA and require that it extend to more employees. He is also targeting to provide more than 14 weeks of paid sick leave if your family is ill and you have to provide caregiving responsibilities. He will be requesting that FFCRA continue until September 30, 2021.
As there are further developments on the new round of benefits for workers, Goldman and Ehrlich will watch for developments to keep clients fully informed. If you have been terminated or disciplined for using COVID-19 benefits or have questions about your benefits, contact our team, 312-332-6733.