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Daycare pays almost $20,000 in back wages after denying staff paid leave for COVID-19

Federal law stipulated they were entitled to paid leave.

A daycare company in Minneapolis has been ordered to pay almost $20,000 in back wages after an investigation found it had denied staff paid sick leave in response to COVID-19.

Mundo De Colores Inc., which operates five Spanish language childcare facilities in the Minneapolis area, was investigated by the U.S. Department of Labor (DoL) after it was accused of failing to provide leave under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, which is part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).

The DoL says it has been ordered to pay out back wages and restored leave value to 28 employees with a value of $19,447.

The probe found that the company, which operates as Jardin Spanish Immersion Academy, denied workers who qualified for the paid leave benefit, and in some cases required them to use accrued PTO instead of giving them the paid time off.

In some cases, the company also required workers to take leave without pay despite them being qualified for paid time off under the FFCRA.

"Employers must comply with the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, and provide employees emergency paid sick leave when they meet qualifying conditions that are designed to minimize exposure, prevent the potential spread of the coronavirus and allow employees to care for family members," said Acting Wage and Hour District Director Debra Wynn, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

"Through outreach and enforcement, the U.S. Department of Labor remains diligent in its efforts to help U.S. employees and employers better understand all the benefits and protections this law provides."

The act is designed to allow businesses with fewer than 500 employees to give their workers paid leave in certain circumstances related to COVID-19, with the firms later reimbursed in the form tax credits.

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