The federal Families First Coronavirus Act (FFCRA) will go into effect on April 1, 2020, leaving law firms and other employers just one day to start getting into compliance.

The FFCRA provides, among other things, several new requirements for many employers – including law firms – to provide leave benefits to their workers.  Covered employers are employers affecting interstate commerce with fewer than 500 employees in aggregate, including nonprofits and religious organizations.  They will now be required to provide workers with:

  • Up to two weeks of paid sick leave at their regular rate of pay or, where applicable, up to two weeks of paid sick leave at two-thirds the worker’s regular pay if that worker is unable to work in order to care for an individual subject to quarantine or for a child whose school or child care provider is closed due to COVID-19; and
  • Up to ten weeks of additional expanded family and medical leave at two-thirds a worker’s rate of pay if COVID-19-related closures of school or child care facilities oblige the worker to stay home.  

A note for small law firms: employers with less than 50 employees may qualify for an exemption from paying for leave due to school closure if it would jeopardize their business's viability as a going concern. 

Law firms should comply with the FFCRA by doing what they do best: notifying and documenting.  They must provide this FFCRA notice to their workers and retain documentation regarding any FFCRA-compliant payments, such as the details of and qualifying reason for any leave, the source of any quarantine or isolation order, and any relevant notice of school or child care facility closure.  What better excuse for keeping those personnel files up to date?