The Families First Corona Response Act (FFCRA) went into effect on April 1, 2020. Since then, thousands of people who work for small businesses (under 500 employees) have taken paid time off for Covid-related reasons.
A new study out in Health Affairs found that FFCRA has been effective in flattening the curve, reducing Covid cases, and, by extension, preventing deaths.
Because the federal government does not require businesses to provide any paid sick leave, while some states do, researchers could compare the two sets of states and figure out the impact of FFCRA on Covid.
They found that FFCRA reduces Covid cases by approximately 400 cases per day. That adds up to a lot of saved lives, as well as huge medical cost savings. While their study didn't look at worker productivity, having sick or exposed people stay home and preventing illness spread undoubtedly means fewer people needed time off than otherwise would.
What this means for your business
The study doesn't change the policy--which remains the same: if you have fewer than 500 employees, then employees who must quarantine receive pay (among other things) for some or all of the quarantine.
Understanding that this law has a tremendous impact on the health of people in your community could change your attitude about the importance of following the law. Employees who test positive or who have been exposed to someone who is sick should stay home. They can, of course, work from home if their jobs can be done from home.
Insurance cost savings
If your company plan covers your employees, the more of them who end up seriously sick, the higher your future rates will be, as most companies adjust for usage. Sending people home to quarantine reduces the number of sick people, which will ultimately help keep your healthcare costs in check.
Keeping up with guideline changes
Perhaps the most difficult part of implementing this quarantine is knowing who qualifies. It's easy to say that someone who tests positive for Covid-19 must quarantine until they are
- 10 days since symptoms first appeared and
- 24 hours with no fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
- other symptoms of Covid-19 are improving*
But, last week, the CDC changed the guideline for people who were exposed. Previously, the rules around quarantine focused on people who were within six feet of the positive person for a period of 15 minutes. But, now, it's a cumulative 15 minutes within a 24-hour period. Under the old rules, if you rode in a car for 10 minutes, got out and went to a meeting, and then got back and drove back for 10 minutes, you wouldn't need to quarantine. But, now you'd add that time together for 20 minutes, which would require quarantining.
Overall, it's nice to see a government policy positively impacting and truly helping keep people healthy. Even if your business has more than 500 employees, you should be following the same quarantining guidelines and (hopefully) providing sick pay for quarantined employees. It's the right thing to do.