On Wednesday, March 18, 2020, President Trump signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act ("FFCRA").
Employers shall be allowed a tax credit for each calendar quarter in an amount equal to 100% of qualified sick leave wages and qualified family leave wages paid by such employer, subject to the amounts below.
Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 Expanded
The part of the Act known as the Emergency Family And Medical Leave Expansion Act ("EFMLEA") expands the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 ("FMLA") to allow an employee to take leave if the employee is unable to work (or telework) due to a need to care for the employee’s child (under the age of 18) if the child’s elementary or secondary school or place of care has been closed, or the childcare provider is unavailable, due to a “public health emergency.” A public health emergency means an emergency with respect to COVID-19 declared by a federal, state, or local authority.
More specifically, the COVID-19 based leave is applicable for the time period beginning April 1, 2020
through December 31, 2020.
- For employees employed at least thirty calendar days;
- For employers with fewer than 500 employees; however, businesses with fewer than fifty employees may apply for exemption if the paid leave requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern.
If the above requirements are met, the employee shall receive:
- First ten days of leave as unpaid leave that the employee can substitute with any accrued vacation, personal, medical, or sick leave (however, the employer cannot require that the employee use his or her paid time off);
- Subsequent days must be paid at 2/3 the employee’s regular rate of pay; and
- The total amount of FMLA leave for any reason is still limited to 12 workweeks per year; leave can be taken on an intermittent basis.
Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act
The FFCRA also includes the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (“EPSLA”) which adds a paid sick leave obligation for sick leave that is taken for COVID-19.
Under the EPSLA, paid sick leave is capped at either:
$511 per day and $5,110 aggregate if:
- 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 a medical diagnosis.
$200 per day and $2,000 aggregate if:
- The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to an order as described in subparagraph (1) or has been advised as described in paragraph (2).
- The employee is caring for a son or daughter of such employee if the school or place of care of the son or daughter has been closed, or the child care provider of such son or daughter is unavailable, due to COVID–19 precautions.
- 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 amount of hours of paid sick time to which an employee is entitled shall be as follows:
- For full-time employees, 80 hours.
- For part-time employees, a number of hours equal to the number of hours that such employee works, on average, over a 2-week period.
FFCRA Provides Free Coronavirus Testing
Along with expanded paid sick leave, the FFCRA authorizes free COVID-19 testing. Group health plans and health insurance issuers offering group or individual health insurance coverage shall provide coverage and not impose any cost sharing, such as deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance, for not only COVID-19 tests but coronavirus-related doctor visits as well. This also applies to the uninsured and public programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.
In these unprecedented times, if you have any concerns about how these laws affect your business, please contact us right away.