Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) is reminding employers that they are still enforcing the current wage and hour laws and regulations. These laws include newly enacted legislation, such as the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). One such example involves the operator of a McDonald’s franchise restaurant in Louisville, Kentucky, who was ordered to pay $1,135 in back wages to an employee after they failed to pay the worker for expanded family and medical leave to care for her child when coronavirus led to the closure of their childcare.

Details of the Case

According to an August 14th, 2020, news release, the WHD determined that NPT Partners LLC violated the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) provisions of the FFCRA. The decision found that, while NPT Partners paid the employee for two weeks of paid leave, the employer failed to pay for an additional three weeks of leave, for which the worker was eligible and needed. NPT Partners later paid the employee once the WHD notified the employer and explained their obligations.

“The Families First Coronavirus Response Act offers relief to workers as they navigate through the coronavirus pandemic to provide for themselves and their families,” said Wage and Hour Regional Administrator Juan Coria in Atlanta, Georgia. “The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division is working vigorously to educate employers about their obligations under this law. We encourage employers to contact us to learn how they can avoid violations like the one found in this case, and ensure that workers are provided the leave the law requires.”

Background of the FFCRA

Congress enacted the FFCRA to help the U.S. combat the workplace effects of the coronavirus by giving tax credits to American businesses with fewer than 500 employees, either to provide employees with paid leave for the employee’s own health needs or to care for family members. The law enables employers to provide the paid leave and then by reimbursed by tax credits, while at the same time ensuring that workers do not have to choose between their paychecks and the public health measures needed to combat the virus.

The WHD continues to provide updated information on its website and through outreach efforts to ensure that workers and employers have the information they need about the benefits and protections of this new law. The agency also provides additional information on common issues employers and employees face when responding to the coronavirus and its effects on wages and hours worked under the Fair Labor Standards Act and on job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. This information is available at https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic.