In response to This New Research: Small Companies Following FFCRA Saves Lives
The Families First Corona Response Act (FFCRA) came 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 reasons.
A new study in Health Affairs found that FFCRA was effective in flattening the curve, reducing Covid cases, and thereby preventing deaths.
Since the federal government doesn’t require companies to take paid sick leave, as it does in some states, researchers could compare the two states and find out the FFCRA’s impact on Covid.
They found that FFCRA reduced Covid cases by approximately 400 cases per day. This translates into many lives saved and huge savings in medical costs. While their study did not look at labor productivity, it undoubtedly means that sick or exposed people staying at home and preventing the spread of disease mean fewer people need leisure time than usual.
What this means for your company
The study doesn’t change the policy – which remains the same: If you have fewer than 500 employees, employees who need to be quarantined will receive payment for part or all of the quarantine (among other things).
Understanding that this law has a tremendous impact on the health of the people in your community can change the way you think about the importance of complying with the law. Employees who test positive or have been exposed to someone who is sick should stay at home. They can of course work from home if their work can be done from home.
Insurance cost savings
If your business plan covers your employees, the higher the more of them are seriously ill, the higher your future rates will be as most companies adapt to usage. Quarantining people home will reduce the number of sick people, which ultimately helps keep your healthcare costs in check.
Keeping pace with policy changes
Perhaps the hardest part of implementing this quarantine is knowing who is qualified. It’s easy to say that someone who tests positive for Covid-19 must be quarantined until they are
- 10 days since symptoms first appeared and
- 24 hours without a fever without antipyretic drugs and
- Other symptoms of Covid-19 are improving *
But last week the CDC changed the policy on exposed people. Previously, the quarantine rules focused on people who were within six feet of the positive person for 15 minutes. But now it’s a cumulative 15 minutes within a 24 hour period. If you’ve been in a car for 10 minutes under the old rules, got out and went to a meeting, and then came back and drove back 10 minutes, you don’t need to quarantine. But now you would add that time for 20 minutes, which would require quarantine.
Overall, it’s nice to see that government policy has a positive impact on people’s health and really adds to it. Even if your company has more than 500 employees, you should follow the same quarantine guidelines and (hopefully) provide sick pay for quarantine workers. It is the right thing.
The opinions expressed by Inc.com columnists here are their own, not those of Inc.com.