Firm News

THE FAMILIES FIRST CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE ACT: A SUMMARY FOR EMPLOYERS

Jennifer Ryback
McGuire, Craddock & Strother
March 19, 2020

President Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) into law on March 18. The FFCRA’s provisions will go into effect within 15 days and will be effective through December 31, 2020. Congress is expected to consider additional measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Below is a summary of the FFCRA’s provisions. Contact McGuire, Craddock & Strother if you have any questions about the FFCRA or if we can help you navigate the COVID-19 pandemic in any other way.

The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act
Under the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA), contained within the FFCRA, eligible employees may take up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave for a qualified need related to a public health emergency, like COVID-19. The EFMLEA amends the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA). Here’s a summary:

• The EFMLEA applies to employees taking leave to care for a child of the employee if the elementary or secondary school or place of care has been closed, or the childcare provider of the child is unavailable, due to a public health emergency.

• The FMLA provides 12 weeks of unpaid leave. Under the EFMLEA, the first two weeks remain unpaid, but the next 10 weeks are paid at two-thirds of the employee’s pay.

• Paid leave under the EFMLEA is subject to a $200/day cap and a $10,000 total cap.

• Eligible employees are those who have been employed for at least 30 calendar days. The ordinary FMLA requirements that the employee has been employed for a year, has worked for 1,250 hours during that time, and works in a location where there are 50 employees within a 75-mile radius does not apply.

• If an employee has any accrued paid sick, medical, or personal days, the employee can use those paid leave days during the first 2 weeks of unpaid leave under the EFMLEA.

• The EFMLEA only applies to employers with fewer than 500 employees. The Secretary of Labor has the authority to issue regulations to exempt small businesses with fewer than 50 employees.

• An employer with fewer than 25 employees may not be required to restore an employee to their position when the employee’s position ceases to exist as a result of a public health emergency during the leave.

• The FMLA provisions regarding enforcement and retaliation apply to the EFMLEA.

The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act

The FFCRA also contains the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA), which is the first federal law requiring private employers to provide paid sick leave to employees. Here’s a summary:

• Full-time employees receive 80 hours of paid sick leave.

• Part-time employees receive a proportionally similar amount of paid sick leave equal to the average number of hours the part-time employee works over a 2-week period.

• Employees may use this leave for the following reasons:

1. to comply with a quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;

2. to follow advice of a healthcare provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19 concerns;

3. the employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis;

4. to care for a family member who is subject to an order as described in (1) above or has been advised as described in (2) above;

5. to care for the employee’s child if the child’s school or childcare provider is closed or unavailable due to COVID-19 precautions; or

6. the employee is 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.

• Paid leave under 1-3 above must be at the employee’s regular rate of pay and is capped at $511 per day ($5,110 total). Paid leave under 4-6 above can be at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay and is capped at $200 per day ($2,000 total).

• The EPSLA only applies to employers with fewer than 500 employees. The Secretary of Labor has the authority to issue regulations to exempt small businesses with fewer than 50 employees.

• Employees may use this paid sick leave immediately, regardless of how long the employee has worked for the employer.

• An employer is prohibited from requiring an employee to use other provided paid leave before using the paid sick leave provided for under the EPSLA.

• Civil penalties may be assessed against employers who violate the EPSLA.

• Employers must post a notice regarding the requirements of the EPSLA, the form of which should be issued by the Department of Labor shortly.

Payroll Tax Credits

The FFCRA also provides payroll tax credits to employers for any paid sick leave or paid family and medical leave provided to employees under the provisions discussed above.

For more information, please contact Jennifer Ryback at [email protected].

This correspondence should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances.  The contents are intended for general informational purposes only, and you are urged to consult a lawyer concerning your own situation and legal questions.  The information contained herein is current as of the date of this article.