Federal Protections for Workers During COVID-19
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government has implemented measures to protect workers’ rights. Two acts, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and the Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA) are meant to help workers care for sick loved ones and recover compensation if they contract COVID-19 in the workplace. Learn more.
The FFCRA, passed by Congress in March 2020, provides paid sick leave for workers who contract COVID-19 or who have to care for a family member with the virus. Available benefits include the following:
- Two weeks of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay where the employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined, and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis; or
- Two weeks of paid sick leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay because the employee is unable to work because of a need to care for an individual subject to quarantine, or care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.
Additionally, the following benefit must be provided to employees who have been employed for at least 30 days:
- Up to an additional 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay where an employee is unable to work due to a need for leave to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.
All private employers with fewer than 500 employees (and certain public employers) are required to abide by the FFCRA. However, small businesses with fewer than 50 employees may qualify for an exemption if the leave requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business.
FECA entitles federal workers who come into close contact with the public, including first responders, law enforcement officers, and more, to workers’ compensation benefits related to COVID-19. These benefits include the following:
- If a COVID-19 claim is filed by a person in high-risk employment, the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP) DFEC will accept that the exposure to COVID-19 was proximately caused by the nature of the employment. If the employer supports the claim and that the exposure occurred, and the CA-1 is filed within 30 days, the employee is eligible to receive Continuation of Pay for up to 45 days.
- If a COVID-19 claim is filed by a person whose position is not considered high-risk, OWCP DFEC will require the claimant to provide a factual statement and any available evidence concerning exposure. The employing agency will also be expected to provide OWCP DFEC with any information they have regarding the alleged exposure, and to indicate whether they are supporting or controverting the claim. If the employer supports the claim and that the exposure occurred, and the CA-1 is filed within 30 days, the employee is eligible to receive Continuation of Pay for up to 45 days.
If you are an essential or non-essential employee and you contracted COVID-19 in your workplace, our attorneys at Shrader & Associates L.L.P. can help you recover the compensation you need for medical bills and lost wages. We’re here to take the matter out of your hands while you focus on getting better.
Contact Shrader & Associates L.L.P. at (877) 958-7920 to schedule a consultation.