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Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Employee Paid Leave Rights

Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Employee Paid Leave Rights

By Stacey Neumann, Partner

Last week, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act was signed into law as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The FFCRA, which is in effect beginning on April 1 and expires on December 31, 2020, requires certain employers to provide employees with paid sick or family leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19.

We’ve broken down the specifics below, but if you need further clarification during this time, our Employment Law attorneys are available.

 

Who qualifies for paid sick leave?

Employers with less than 500 employees are required to provide paid sick leave for employees who are unable to work due to qualifying reasons for leave (we’ll go into this below).

Employees of the federal government that are covered by Title II of the Family and Medical Leave Act are not covered by the expanded family and medical leave provisions of the FFCRA, but they are covered by the paid sick leave provision.

All employees of covered employers are eligible for two weeks of paid sick time for specified reasons related to COVID-19. Employees employed for at least 30 days are eligible for up to an additional 10 weeks of paid family leave to care for a child under certain circumstances related to COVID-19.

 

Who is excluded from these provisions?

Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees may qualify for exemption from the requirement to provide leave due to school closings or child care unavailability.

Employers of Health Care Providers or Emergency Responders may elect to exclude employees from eligibility for the leave provided under the Act.

 

What are qualifying reasons for paid sick leave?

An employee qualifies for paid sick leave if they are unable to work, or unable to work remotely, due to one of the following reasons:

  1. The employee is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
  2. The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19;
  3. The employee is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
  4. The employee is caring for an individual subject to an order described in (1) or self-quarantine as described in (2);
  5. The employee is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) for reasons related to COVID-19; or
  6. The employee is experiencing any other substantially-similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of Labor and Treasury.

Under the FFCRA, an employee qualifies for expanded family and medical leave if the employee is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) for reasons related to COVID-19.

 

How long are employees able to take paid sick leave for?

For employees who are caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed, a full-time employee is eligible for up to 12 weeks of leave (two weeks of paid sick leave followed by up to 10 weeks of paid expanded family & medical leave) at 40 hours a week, and a part-time employee is eligible for leave for the number of hours that they would work on average during that period.

For all other qualifying reasons, full-time employees are eligible for 80 hours of leave, and part-time employees are eligible for leave for the number of hours that they would work on average during a typical two week period.

 

How is pay calculated?

Employees who are subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19; employees who have been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19; or employees who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis are entitled to pay at either their regular rate or the applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher, up to $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate (over a 2-week period).

Employees who are caring for an individual that is quarantined or who are experiencing any other substantially-similar condition as outlined in bullet point #6 above are entitled to pay at 2/3 their regular rate or 2/3 the applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher, up to $200 per day and $2,000 in the aggregate (over a 2-week period).

Employees who are caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed are entitled to pay at 2/3 their regular rate or 2/3 the applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher, up to $200 per day and $12,000 in the aggregate (over a 12-week period).

 

How can employers recoup costs associated with FFCRA?

Every dollar of expanded family and medical leave (plus the cost of the employer’s health insurance premiums during leave) will be 100% covered by a dollar-for-dollar refundable tax credit available to the employer.

More specifics on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act can be found here.