To ease the burden and assist small business owners and their employees during the COVID-19 pandemic, emergency legislation has been signed into law. Here are some highlights of the new law.
Overview of the Law:
- The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) is effective as of April 1, 2020.
- It includes amendments to the current FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) and stipulates requirements for paid sick leave.
- Employers covered by the FFCRA Emergency Paid FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) and paid sick leave will be responsible for paying out the costs themselves and will be reimbursed through certain tax credits, which may not happen until 2021.
- FMLA is calculated based on the number of hours the leave-taking employee would normally be scheduled to work. This cannot be less than two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay. The amount will not exceed $200 per day and $10,000 in total.
- The law amends the FMLA to provide for up to 12 weeks of emergency, job-protected leave if an employee is unable to work or telework due to a need to care for a child under 18 years of age because that child’s school or place of care has closed or the child’s child care provider is unavailable due to a public health emergency with respect to COVID-19.
Paid Sick Leave Provision:
- The FFCRA’s paid sick leave provision provides qualifying full-time employees 80 hours of such leave.
- Part-time employees are entitled to time equal to the number of hours they work on average over a two-week period.
- The leave doesn’t carry over from one year to the next.
- Payment is calculated based on the employee’s “required compensation” and the number of hours the employee would otherwise be scheduled to work.
- Payout varies depending on why it is being used.
- If the employee is using the paid sick time because of their own circumstances relative to COVID-19, that employee is entitled to a maximum amount of $511 per day and $5,110 total.
- If the employee is using the paid sick time to care for another whose circumstances have been affected by COVID-19, that employee is entitled to a maximum amount of $200 per day and $2,000 total.
- Employers may not require an employee to use other paid leave provided by the employer before the employee uses the paid sick leave guaranteed by the FFCRA.
- The FFCRA’s paid sick time provision is available for immediate use regardless of an employee’s duration of employment, and an employer may not require, that workers find a replacement to cover the hours during which the employee is using paid sick time.
- If an employer operates in a state that already mandates accrued sick leave, employees can use accrued leave during the 10 initial days of unpaid leave.
- State-mandated accrued leave would run consecutively and the employee may choose in which order they take the leaves.
- Employers with fewer than 25 employees are exempt from the job-protected aspect of this leave, however, provided certain conditions are met.
- The first 10 days of the emergency FMLA leave may consist of unpaid leave.
- The FFCRA does potentially allow for other exemptions from its provisions — under limited circumstances.
- Employers must post, in a public place on their premises, a notice to employees informing them of the new sick leave regulations.
- The DOL has a model notice available to employers.
- Employers should communicate to employees all of their rights and benefits under the law either through informal communication or revised policies.
Please click here to be directed to the Department of Labor website for more detailed information on the new law.
We will continue to bring you updates as we learn of them.