Hello – it’s Niki Ramirez here, your HR consultant with HRAnswers.org. How are you? As I write this post, I have stopped many times to wonder, how you faring out there? How are your employees? How is your family? Reach out and let me know how you are. You can find me on LinkedIn every day.

About this post:

I hope that this post offers information that proves to be helpful to you, and I want you to know that I’m here to support you if you feel that additional guidance would be right for you. Will can work with you on an as-needed or on-going basis to address your HR needs during these unusual times. More information is provided on how we can work together at the end of this article. 

Is there a small business exemption from Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Family and Medical Leave?

In a recent blog post, we shared many details regarding the newly minted Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) – visit this link for a basic understanding of the rule that applies to employers with between 1 and 499 employees.

Today, we wanted to stop in and share a little bit about the small business exemption that we having been discussing with many business owners. In short:

An employer, including a religious or nonprofit organization, with fewer than 50 employees (“small business”) is exempt from providing (a) paid sick leave due to school or place of care closures or child care provider unavailability for COVID-19 related reasons and (b) expanded family and medical leave due to school or place of care closures or child care provider unavailability for COVID-19 related reasons when doing so would jeopardize the viability of the small business as a going concern.

A small business may claim this exemption if an authorized officer of the business has determined that (just 1 of the 3 reasons below must apply):

  1. The provision of paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave would result in the small business’s expenses and financial obligations exceeding available business revenues and cause the small business to cease operating at a minimal capacity;
  2. The absence of the employee or employees requesting paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave would entail a substantial risk to the financial health or operational capabilities of the small business because of their specialized skills, knowledge of the business, or responsibilities; or
  3. There are not sufficient workers who are able, willing, and qualified, and who will be available at the time and place needed, to perform the labor or services provided by the employee or employees requesting paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave, and these labor or services are needed for the small business to operate at a minimal capacity.

What about Emergency Paid Sick Leave for COVID-related illness? 

Employers with 1 to 499 employees whose employee requests Emergency Paid Sick Leave (“EPSL”) are never allowed to exempt themselves from paying ESPL to employees who qualify under the other reasons provided under the FFCRA. Those qualifying reasons, just as a reminder are:

  1. Is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
  2. Has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19; or
  3. Is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis;

As a business owner, what do I need to submit to the Department of Labor to request this exemption?

If you determine that you meet the requirements for an exemption, you need not submit anything to the Department of Labor at this time. Clearly document your facts, reasoning, financials, etc. and archive in a safe place, preferably with a time-stamp to demonstrate when you conducted your assessment. If you business is every audited for compliance with the FFCRA in the future, the records you collect and archive now will be critical.

How our team can help you with this: 

You care deeply about your employees. You are worried about compliance and continuity in your business. We can help.

Our team is here to help you develop a custom FFCRA policy for your business, as well as design request forms and other communication tools to help you achieve and maintain compliance. We are also helping clients manage and track requests. If we can assist you, reach out today and let us take this off of your plate.

Each organization is affected differently. Let us help customize your plan and your policy.

Schedule a private call with a trusted HR Advisor.

We recommend scheduling a Quick Fire Coaching call – a virtual session to discuss your HR and workplace questions and concerns.

These Quick Fire Coaching sessions are affordably priced at a reduced rate so that business leaders can get the guidance and support they need, and carry on with business. 


Meet Your Consultant.

Niki Ramirez is a certified human resource professional with over 20 years of successful experience in leadership and human resources management and is a sought-after and trusted industry expert.

She has created a unique and practical approach to HR, carefully balancing employees’ and employer’s needs. Niki believes in the power of collaboration and communication and that success is accomplished is through the dedication of great employees who feel respected and empowered in the workplace; success is accomplished through the dedication of great employees who feel respected and empowered in the workplace.

She takes a practical approach to human resources and focuses on guiding teams to work in partnership to design and implement meaningful workplace policies, practices and programs rooted in collaboration, respect, trust and open communication creating a positive ripple in the world.

Niki has served in a variety of operational management and leadership roles, including as the Director of Human Resources for the Wild Horse Pass Development Authority and for the Kyrene School District, where she led human resources for department of over 300 employees at 16 locations. Niki is proud to provide HR consultation, as well as training and development support for Native American governments and their enterprises as well. She been an invited speaker at the National Native American HR Association Annual Conference for 6 years and counting. In addition, Niki has served as a human resources consultant with a Fortune 500 company, as well as community adjunct faculty at Chandler Gilbert Community College.

In addition to her three HR professional certifications, one being a specialized certification in the practice of HR within Native American Tribal enterprises and governments, Niki is bi-lingual in Spanish/English, holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish from Arizona State University, and an MBA in HR Management from the University of Phoenix.