Employee Benefits: The Families First Coronavirus Response Act Important Updates3 min read

Paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act) was signed by the President Trump on March 18, 2020.  FFCRA requires certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave for qualifying reasons related to COVID-19.  These provisions will apply from April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020.

GENERAL PROVISIONS

Generally, employers covered under the Act must provide employees who cannot work, or telework:

Up to two weeks (up to 80 hours, or a part-time employee’s two-week equivalent) of paid sick leave based on the higher of their regular rate of pay, or the applicable state or Federal minimum wage, paid at:

• 100% for qualifying reasons #1 – #3 below, up to $511 daily and $5,110 total;

• 2/3 for qualifying reasons #4 and #6 below, up to $200 daily and $2,000 total; and

• Up to 12 weeks of leave (two weeks of paid sick leave followed by up to 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave) for reason #5 below paid at 2/3’s the employee’s regular rate of pay for up to $200 daily and $10,000 total.  

Qualifying Reasons for Leave Related to COVID-19

An employee is entitled to take leave related to COVID-19 if the employee is unable to work, including telework, because the employee:

#1. is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;

#2. has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19;

#3. is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis;

#4. is caring for an individual subject to an order described in (#1) or self-quarantine as described in (#2);

#5. is caring for his or her child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) due to COVID-19 related reasons; or

#6. is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

See links below for additional information:

https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-employee-paid-leave

https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-questions

COVERED EMPLOYERS

Private employers with fewer than 500 employees (total full-time and part-time employees at the time an employee’s leave is to be taken), and certain public employers.  Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees may qualify for a hardship waiver and exemption from the requirement to provide leave due to school closings or child care unavailability if the leave requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern.

ELIGIBLE EMPLOYEES

In general, all employees of covered employers are eligible for up to two weeks of paid sick leave (either fully- or partially-paid) for one or more qualifying reasons for leave related to COVID-19 listed below. Employees who have been employed for at least 30 calendar days prior to their leave request may be eligible for up to an additional 10 weeks of paid expanded family leave to care for his or her child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) due to COVID-19 related reasons .  Employers may not require an employee to first use other types of paid leave offered by the employer (e.g., paid time off (PTO)/vacation/sick leave) before using paid sick time under the Act.

PART-TIME EMPLOYEES

Part-time employees must be paid based on the average number of hours the employee worked for the six months prior to taking paid sick leave (or what he/she would normally be scheduled to work over a two-week period if the part-time employee has been employed less than six months prior to taking leave under the Act).

TAX CREDITS

The FFCRA provides businesses with tax credits to cover certain costs of providing employees with required paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave for reasons related to COVID-19 through December 31, 2020.  See COVID-19-Related Tax Credits for Paid Sick and Paid Family Leave: Overview.

https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/covid-19-related-tax-credits-for-paid-sick-and-paid-family-leave-overview

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