What You Need to Know About the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

By Brandon Vogel

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President Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) into law Wednesday night. The legislation provides paid leave, establishes free testing, protects public health workers and provides important benefits to children and families.

The U.S. Department of Labor hosted a national webinar on March 20 to explain the Act and its provisions: the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act.

Here are some key takeaways to know:

  • Both provisions are effective no later than 15 days after enactment and sunset December 31st, 2020.
  • The Emergency Family Medical Leave and Expansion Act amends the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and provides leave for qualifying public health emergencies. It provides a new FMLA leave entitlement to include 10 days of unpaid leave and subsequent days of paid leave. Eligibility requirements are for employees who have been employed for at least 30 calendar days. It applies to employers who have fewer than 500 employees.
  • The amended FMLA provides up to 12 weeks of leave “because of a qualifying need related to a public health emergency.” The first 10 days for which an employee takes leave would be unpaid and the employee may elect to substitute any accrued paid vacation, personal leave, medical or sick leave. After those 10 days, the employer provides paid leave for each day of not less than two thirds than the employers’ regular rate of pay determined under Section 8 of the Family Standards Act. Hours are based on the number of hours the employee would be scheduled to work.
  • The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act covers all companies with up to 500 employees. There is no 50-person minimum with the typical Family Medical Leave Act, and self-employed people can see some benefits. There are six qualifying reasons for coverage under this bill. The employee is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to Covid-19; the employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to Covid-19; the employee is experiencing symptoms of Covid-19 and seeking medical diagnosis; the employee is caring for an individual who is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine order, or the individual has been advised to self-quarantine due to concerns related to Covid-19; the employee is caring for the employee’s son or daughter, if the child’s school or child care facility has been closed or the child’s care provider is unavailable due to Covid-19 precautions; or the employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by Health and Human Services in consultation with the Department of the Treasury and the Department of Labor.
  • For full-time employees paid sick time is available for up to 80 hours. Part-time employees are entitled to paid sick time equal to the number of hours that the employee works, on average, over a two-week period, so an employee who works an average of 15 hours per week would be entitled to 30 hours of sick time.. Paid sick time does not carry over from one year to the next and it ceases beginning with the employee’s next scheduled work shift immediately following the termination of the need for paid sick time under the act. An employer may not require as a condition of providing the paid sick time and be involved in the search to find replacement to cover the hours during which he or she would be using the paid sick time.
  • Paid sick time under this act is available for immediate use by the employee regardless of how long the employee has been employed by the employer.

 

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