While the new regulations may protect your business through the crisis, not understanding the company's responsibilities may expose you to liability in the months after the crisis.
The Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Family and Medical Leave provisions of the FFCRA take effect April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020. and apply to private employers with fewer than 500 employees. Currently, businesses with fewer than 50 employees may qualify for exemption only from the requirement to provide leave due to school closings or unavailability of childcare if the leave requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern. To elect this small business exemption, the DOL will require that you document why your business meets the criteria set forth by the Department, which will be addressed in more detail in forthcoming regulations. It is important that you have an attorney keep you informed of the regulations changes and requirements.
Violation of the provisions of the FFCRA carry fines up to $10,000 and other penalties. The FFCRA also creates a civil cause of action for individuals against a business who is in violation. However, there are also protections afforded under the Act and it is vital to protect your company by making educated and informed decisions. In addition, the actions taken by a company can be used to establish good faith attempt at compliance, which could lessen the severity of the potential penalties.. FFCRA is not the only regulation. CARES also has significant repercussions for businesses.
Businesses need to be aware that not only are there benefits of having employees work remotely, there are pitfalls that can expose them to liability in the future.
o Company equipment and restriction on use of personal equipment
o With remote working there can be communication issues that arise and loss of information that can cause monetary losses.
Put in place new guidelines for working at home such as setting schedules for calls, daily logs and activity reports, and supplementing or amending the employee manual to address remote issues, to increase the likelihood of successful remote workplace environments .
The above represents the proverbial "tip of the iceberg" when it comes to the new regulations and remote workplace issues. Both employers and employees need to know their legal rights and responsibilities during this crisis so that they do not expose themselves to legal demands in the future.