On March 19, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) was signed into law. This law provides emergency paid leave to employees in two circumstances as described in Department of Labor (DOL):handout Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Employer Paid Leave Requirements (PDF)
Generally, the Act provides that covered employers must provide to all employees:
- Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay where the employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis; or
- Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay because the employee is unable to work because of a bona fide need to care for an individual subject to quarantine (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), or care for a child (under 18 years of age) whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19, and/or the employee is experiencing a substantially similar condition as specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of the Treasury and Labor.
A covered employer must provide to employees that it has employed for at least 30 days
- Up to an additional 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay where an employee is unable to work due to a bona fide need for leave to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.
Tax Credits: DOL says: “Covered employers qualify for dollar-for-dollar reimbursement through tax credits for all qualifying wages paid under the FFCRA. Qualifying wages are those paid to an employee who takes leave under the Act for a qualifying reason, up to the appropriate per diem and aggregate payment caps. Applicable tax credits also extend to amounts paid or incurred to maintain health insurance coverage. For more information, please see the Department of the Treasury’s website.”
- Related from FMLA Insights: IRS, DOL Announce Plan for Employers to “Swiftly” Recover the Cost of Providing Coronavirus-Related Leave to Employees
Qualifying Reasons for Leave: Employees may be eligible under this law if they are unable to work (or unable to telework) under various COVID19-related circumstances. See the linked handout for more detail.
Covered employers: “Private-sector employers with fewer than 500 employees. 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 if the leave requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern.”
When: Effective on April 1, 2020, and apply to leave taken between April 1, 2020, and December 31, 2020.
(Note – there was some initial confusion about the start date, which initially was thought to be April 2)
Employer Posting / Notification requirements:
According to the DOL: “Each covered employer must post a notice of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requirements in a conspicuous place on its premises. An employer may satisfy this requirement by emailing or direct mailing this notice to employees, or posting this notice on an employee information internal or external website.” For more on the Posting/Notice requirements, see the DOL Frequently Asked Questions
Copy of the required posting notice: Employee Rights: Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Family and Medical Leave under The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
Additional resources from the DOL:
- H.R.6201 – Families First Coronavirus Response Act
- COVID-19 and the American Workplace
- Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Employee Paid Leave Rights (PDF)
- Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Questions and Answers
Employment Law & HR resources
- FMLA Insights, Jeff Nowak: DOL Publishes Initial Guidance on How to Implement Emergency Paid Sick and Paid FMLA Leave
- Access a recorded webinar out on by Jeff Nowak and other attorneys from Littler: Practical Issues for Employers in Navigating the New Federal Emergency Paid FMLA and Sick Leave Mandates
- HR Morning: The Families First Coronavirus Response Act: What you need to know
- HR Daily Advisor: Employers Brace for Paid Leave Brought on By Coronavirus
Related prior posts from HR Web Cafe and our Wellness Blog:
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): What employers need to know
- Managing a remote workforce during coronavirus shutdowns
- Coronavirus prevention and precaution tips
- How to stay healthy & well during coronavirus shutdowns