HR Related Decisions for Physical Therapy Owners During COVID-19

We know it has been challenging to navigate all the staffing and HR related decisions for physical therapy owners during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The information below is designed to explain options and enhance your decision-making process.  The data is current as of Wednesday, March 25th, 2020, 2:00 pm CST.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

The FFCRA is new legislation designed to protect employees and provide benefits to those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Key points are summarized below. Additional guidance on the  Department of Labor (DOL) has issued the mandatory posting.  Note this  must be posted by April 1st and in a conspicuous location.

  • Passed March 18, 2020; Effective April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020  for employers with UNDER 500 employees

  • Includes two types paid leave based on specified criteria
    • Emergency Paid Sick Leave (up to 80 hours paid by employer)
      • Employee unable to work due to quarantine/experiencing symptoms (@100% regular pay rate) OR employee unable to work because of bona fide need to care for an individual subject to quarantine (@ 66.7% regular pay rate)
      • These do not stack meaning there is 80 hours total leave in this category.  Employees cannot take 80 hours of leave for themselves at 100% and then take an additional 80 hours of leave for others at 66.7%
    • Public Health Emergency Leave (up to 10 additional weeks paid by employer)
      • Employee unable to work because of a bona fide need to care for a child (under 18) whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable due to COVID-19 (@ 66.7% regular pay rate)
  • Specifies that leave does not carry over into 2021.  Employees are not entitled to reimbursement for unused FFCRA leave upon any separation of employment. (layoff, quit, termination, etc.)
  • States that tax relief for businesses will be based on amounts paid to employees under the FFCRA.  Department of Treasury has not released this process.  It is wise to document leave under FFCRA similar to all other PTO/sick leave you currently provide.
  • Mentions a possible exemption for employers under 50 employees if the FFCRA jeopardizes the viability of the business (criteria and process for requesting this exception are currently undefined)
  • Mandates that employers will be required to post a notice of FFCRA requirements in a conspicuous place once it is released from the DOL.

At this time, it is important to be aware that this legislation has passed and is in the process of being implemented for an effective date of April 1, 2020.  All employees who have been with the company at least 30 days and who are still employed with the company are eligible (likely including furloughed employees).

The DOL has published three documents to help employers and employees understand the FFCRA.  Please use the links below to access the documents for employers, employees and FAQs.

FFCRA Employer Paid Leave Requirements:

FFCRA Employee Paid Leave Rights:

FFCRA Questions and Answers:

Additional Reference Links:

BCMS has been providing private practice compliance consultation since 2000. We specialize in compliance policies and procedures, guidance and consultation focused primarily on Federal/State regulations, coding, billing, documentation, HIPAA, OSHA and selected Federal Labor Laws.  To learn more about BCMS, click here.  For more information on HR related decisions for physical therapy owners during COVID-19 click or to subscribe to our e-alert newsletter that delivers time sensitive regulation and industry changes, click here.