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UPDATE: THE FAMILIES FIRST CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE ACT

On March 18, 2020, President Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) into law. Among other things, the FFCRA includes employment-related provisions, such as the Emergency Family and Medical Leave and Expansion Act and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, which impacts most employers. FFCRA will become effective on April 1, 2020.

Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act: This Act provides 12 weeks of job-protected, partially paid FMLA leave for employees who are unable to work or telework due to a need for leave to care for their children if schools or daycares are closed, or child care providers are unavailable, due to a public health emergency (i.e. Coronavirus (COVID-19)).

Employee Eligibility. Any employee who has worked for their employer for at least 30 calendar days.

Employee Coverage. Any and all employers with fewer than 500 employees.

Paid or Unpaid? The first ten days (i.e. first two work weeks) are unpaid. After those ten days, employees are paid at two-thirds of their regular rate of pay. Employees may elect to use Emergency Paid Sick Leave, or any other accrued leave, during the first ten days.  Payments made to employees are capped at $200 per day ($10,000 total).

Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act: This Act provides up to two weeks of paid sick leave for employees who are unable to work or telework for circumstances related to COVID-19.  Specifically, the paid sick leave is intended for employees who: (1) are subject to Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19; (2) have been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19; (3) are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and are seeking a medical diagnosis; (4) are caring for an individual who has been ordered to self-quarantine or self-isolate; (5) are caring for a child whose school or place of care has been closed or has a child care provider who is unavailable due to COVID-19 precautions; or (6) are experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor.

Employee Eligibility. All employee, regardless of length of employment.

Employee Coverage. Any and all employers with fewer than 500 employees.

Amount of Leave Available. Full-time employees receive two weeks (80 hours) of paid leave; whereas, part-time employees receive a number of hours equal to the number of hours that the employee works, on average, over a two-week period.

Rate of Pay. Employees must receive the greater of (i) the employee’s regular rate of pay; (ii) Federal minimum wage; or (iii) State minimum wage, up to:

  • $511 per day ($5,110 total) if the paid sick leave is taken for reasons 1-3 (listed above); or
  • $200 per day ($2,000 total) if the paid sick leave is taken for reasons 4-6 above.

Of note, employers cannot require an employee to use other accrued paid leave before the employee uses the Emergency Paid Sick Leave.

What Does This Mean For Employers? If an employee must take FMLA leave or sick leave due to COVID-19, employers must provide such leave in accordance with the FFCRA. Luckily, each quarter, employers are entitled to receive fully refundable tax credit equal to one hundred percent of the qualified FMLA and/or sick leave wages paid to employees. The FFCRA also empowers the Department of Labor to create regulations which exempt small businesses with fewer than fifty employees from the FFCRA under certain circumstances.  

For more information on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, please contact the attorneys at York Bowman Law, LLC.

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