What does the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act Mean for Employers?

Last week, the President signed the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (FFCRA) into law, one of several bills aimed at mitigating the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on the nation’s workforce and economy.  The FFCRA includes several provisions that directly impact employers in the coming weeks. Click this http://tazwoodmentalhealth.org/

Effective April 2, 2020, all employers with less than 500 employees will be required to provide paid and protected leave for COVID-19 related absences. The law includes a temporary amendment to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) which includes paid leave. It also creates a federal paid sick leave benefit of up to 80 hours that employers are obligated to provide. Employers will be reimbursed for both benefits through credits applied against FICA taxes.

FMLA Expansion

The new law adds a temporary eligibility factor for leave entitlement so that an employee may care for a son or daughter in the event of a school or daycare closure as a result of a public health emergency. Different than other types of leave under FMLA, however, this leave applies to all businesses with less than 500 employees, and employees only have to be employed for 30 days to be eligible. Additionally, while the first ten days of leave are unpaid, up to ten subsequent weeks of leave are paid at two thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay (capped at $200/day).

Paid Sick Leave

The FFCRA also mandates that employers provide up to 80 hours of paid sick leave for absences related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Employees are eligible for the benefit upon hire and may utilize the time when:

  • The employee is subject to a quarantine or isolation order. An isolation order includes the Executive Order issued last week by Governor Newsom as well as the preceding orders issued by County Health Departments.
  • The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine or has symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis.
  • The employee is caring for a person who is subject to an order or health care provider advisement.
  • The employee is caring for a son or daughter during a coronavirus-related school or daycare closure.

The federally mandated paid sick leave is required in addition to what is already offered through an employer’s existing time-off policies, including the three days/24-hours of paid sick leave under California law. Moreover, an employer can’t require that an employee exhaust those leave banks before being eligible for the sick leave pay. Part-time employees and those who work a variable schedule are eligible for a pro-rated amount of paid sick days based on an average number of hours worked.

FFCRA sick leave must be paid at the employee’s regular rate of pay when absences are due to the employee’s own health condition (capped at $511/day).  When the time is taken to care for another individual and/or to care for a child who is home due to a school or daycare closure, the time must be compensated at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay (capped at $200 a day).

Looking Ahead

The FFCRA commits to publishing additional guidance on the law’s provisions and the potential for exemptions for certain businesses.

  • The Department of Labor (DOL) will issue a required posting regarding paid sick leave by March 25, 2020.
  • The DOL has the authority to issue regulations that exclude businesses with less than 50 employees from the requirements of the law when the viability of the business may be jeopardized.
  • The Treasury Department is expected to provide future guidance on details relating to the tax credits.

We hope this general overview of the FFCRA is helpful. If you would like more specific information about the new law, just let us know. We will be closely monitoring for these and other developments related to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act in the days and weeks ahead.