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Client Alert: Families First Coronavirus Response Act: What it Means for You

Originally published in Y&D's March 19, 2020, Client Alert.

Last night, the Senate voted to approve the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). This is aimed at addressing the strain that COVID-19 has placed on Americans. Many of its provisions apply to employers, and employers should be prepared when this legislation comes into effect on April 2. This brief overview is intended to provide employers with a general understanding of the ramifications of this law.

The FFCRA provides two major changes – The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and the Emergency Family Medical Leave Expansion Act.


The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act

This Act applies to employees of employers with fewer than 500 employees. These employers must now provide employees with two weeks (80 hours) of paid sick leave to full-time employees, or the average number of hours the employee would work over a two week period to part-time employees, if the employee is unable to work or telework due to a need for leave because:

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 due to concerns related to COVID-19;

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

4. The employee is caring for an individual subject to an order as described in (1) or (2)

5. The employee is caring for his or her son or daughter if the school or place of care has been closed or the childcare provider is 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.

The Act provides a payroll tax credit for employers that can be claimed on a quarterly basis equal to 100% of the amount of paid sick leave wages paid. This credit is limited to $511 per day if the employee is taking leave for the reasons enumerated in 1 – 3, up to $5,110, and $200 per day if the employee is taking leave for reasons enumerated in 4 – 6, up to $2,000. This is refundable if the amount paid exceeds the employers’ tax liability.


The Emergency Family Medical Leave Expansion Act

This Act applies to employees of employers with fewer than 500 employees, who have been employed for at least 30 days. These employees are now able to take up to 10 weeks of job-protected leave under the FMLA if they meet the following condition:

They are unable to work (or telework) due to a need for leave to care for the son or daughter under 18 years of age of such employee if the school or place of care has been closed, or the child care provider of such son or daughter is unavailable, due to a public health emergency.

The first ten days of leave may be unpaid. The eligible employee may substitute accrued vacation, personal leave, or medical leave up to the first 10 days of the initial period of leave. The remaining period of qualifying leave is paid at a rate that is at least two-thirds of the regular rate that employee would have earned under a normal work schedule. The bill limits the amount employers are required to pay to $200 per day and $10,000 total.


More Legislation Coming

The House and Senate have already started discussing proposals for another piece of COVID-19 stimulus legislation.

The attorneys at Yourkvitch & Dibo can assist with any questions and issues that may arise as the COVID-19 situation develops.

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