Firing Employees During a State of Emergency FAQ

Coronavirus has made it so I cannot afford my employees – can I legally let them go or fire them? I need to keep some employees because of their job function, but others I can do without. If I fire those I do not need because of Coronavirus / COVID 19 impacts, is that discrimination?

Your clients and customer traffic are way down due to Coronavirus and government stay-at-home orders, which means your revenues are way down. You may not be able to afford to employ some of your employees, or they have almost nothing to do without customer traffic. Can you legally let your employees go – even if just temporarily? See the answers below.

  1. I am in financial distress and cannot afford to employ some of my employees. Can I legally let them go?

5 Exemptions for Small Business Owners Under the CARES Act

I cannot afford to give my employee the paid sick leave required under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, are there any exemptions?

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act requires employers with fewer than 500 employees to give employees up to 80 hours of emergency paid sick leave and/or up to 12 weeks of paid emergency family medical leave if the employee qualifies under the law for either type of leave. (See  Johnson May March 30, 2020 video webinar posted on the law and rules of these two types of paid sick leave: www.johnsonmaylaw.com)

On April 1, 2020, the US Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division published a temporary rule allowing employers with fewer than 50 employees to deny an employee requesting either type of paid sick leave such leave if certain qualifications are met.

An employer may deny an employee’s request for either emergency paid sick leave or emergency family medical leave if:

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