April 3, 2020
On Wednesday, April 1, the new Families First Coronavirus Response Act went into effect. This federal Act requires some employers in Maine to provide their employees with paid sick leave and expanded medical leave for reasons related to COVID-19. A link to the FFCRA language can be found here: https://www.congress.gov/116/plaws/publ127/PLAW-116publ127.pdf.
The new federal requirements apply to covered employers as defined in the Act, which includes most businesses with fewer than 500 employees and almost all public employers. The Act allows for these businesses to be reimbursed for expenses they incur to provide required paid leave through a payroll tax credit. Certain businesses with fewer than 50 employees can seek an exemption. Businesses must seek this exemption at the federal level.
Employees of covered public and private employers may be eligible for up to two weeks of emergency paid sick leave (80 hours) at full pay and in some cases up to an additional ten weeks of emergency paid family medical leave at partial (2/3) pay.
The U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division (WHD) is responsible for implementation and enforcement of the Act. Please visit their website for more information: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ including answers to a wide range of anticipated questions from both employees and employers. You will also find posters that employers will be required to display at their worksites.
WHD will post a recorded webinar on Friday, April 3, 2020 to provide interested parties a more in-depth description and help them learn more about the FFCRA. To view the webinar visit https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/. WHD invites webinar viewers to call the agencys toll-free help line at 866-4US-WAGE to speak with a trained WHD professional about any questions they may have. They have also provided the following website for comments and suggestions from employers, workers and the public: https://ffcra.ideascale.com/.
Information on other new developments at the state and federal levels such as a separate stimulus package-the CARES Actwill be posted and distributed when it is available. MDOL is currently waiting for additional guidance from USDOL on the implementation.
Thank you and best regards,
Commissioner, Maine Department of Labor