News Release

Georgia Department of Human Services Pays Employee Denied Emergency Sick Leave Allowed by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

ATLANTA, GA – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) determined that the Georgia Department of Human Services wrongly denied emergency paid sick leave to an employee who needed to miss work to care for a child whose school closed due to the coronavirus. As a result, the employer paid $848 in back wages as required under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).

The division found that Georgia Department of Human Services initially approved the employee’s leave request, but later denied it and instead offered multiple telework options. After receiving clarification from WHD that an employee unable to telework may take EPSLA leave to care for a child whose school or place of care closed due to the coronavirus, the employer acknowledged the error and agreed to pay the back wages at the required two-thirds of the employee’s regular rate of pay. To ensure future compliance, the employer changed their policy for their 9,000 employees and requested FFCRA training for their Human Resources staff from WHD.

“The U.S. Department of Labor is working to protect employee rights and educate employers during the coronavirus pandemic,” said Wage and Hour Division Acting District Director Derrick Witherspoon, in Atlanta, Georgia. “We encourage all employers and employees to call us for assistance to improve their understanding of the new requirements under the Family First Coronavirus Response Act. We also offer many online tools to help employers avoid violations like those found in this investigation.”

The FFCRA helps the U.S. combat and defeat the workplace effects of the coronavirus by giving tax credits to all 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. Please visit WHD’s “Quick Benefits Tips” for information about how much leave workers may qualify to use, and the wages employers must pay. The law enables employers to keep their workers on their payrolls, while at the same time ensuring that workers are not forced to choose between their paychecks and the public health measures needed to combat the virus.

WHD continues to provide updated information on its website and through extensive 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 at https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic

For more information about the laws enforced by WHD, call 866-4US-WAGE, or visit www.dol.gov/agencies/whd.

For further information about the coronavirus, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.  

The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.

Agency
Wage and Hour Division
Date
May 27, 2020
Release Number
20-985-ATL
Contact: Eric R. Lucero
Phone Number
Contact: Michael D'Aquino
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