The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) provides expanded paid leave for employees who are sick, caring for sick family members, or supervising children whose schools or daycare facilities are closed due to COVID-19.
Since the announcement of the Act a week ago, there has been a lot of speculation about how much leave the final law would offer and to whom it would apply. Now, the Department of Labor has published clarifying guidance to help employers and employees alike understand the FFCRA.
In this post we’ll:
- Provide a general summary of employee leave requirements under the FFCRA
- Clarify when the bill goes into effect and which businesses it will affect
- Review the most important takeaways for employees & employers
If you’d like to see the full text of the DOL’s guidance materials, they can be found here:
What does the Act say businesses need to do?
The FFCRA dictates that small and medium-sized employers (<500 U.S. employees) must provide paid sick leave for employees as needed to account for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Specifically, all employees are entitled to:
- Two full weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at their regular rate if they are unable to work due to COVID-19 illness, quarantine due to exposure, or are experiencing symptoms associated with the virus and awaiting diagnosis
- Two full weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at 2/3 their regular rate if they need to care for an individual who is subject to quarantine OR if they need to care for minors whose schools or childcare facilities are closed due to COVID-19
Furthermore, employees who have been with an employer for more than 30 days are also eligible for:
- Up to 10 additional weeks of paid extended family/medical leave at 2/3 their regular rate if they need to care for minors whose schools or childcare facilities are closed due to COVID-19
When does the new law go into effect?
April 1; one week from the publication of new guidance from the DOL.
How do I know if the new guidance affects my business?
If your business has 500 or more employees in the United States, the FFCRA does not apply to your business. Employee headcounts from different divisions or establishments within a corporation should be added together to determine whether or not the entity as a whole is exempt.
If your business has 499 or fewer employees in the United States, the leave expansions of the FFCRA apply to your business.
Independent contractors should not be included in your headcount to determine exempt status. Employees already on leave, jointly employed professionals, and temps contracted through an agency should be included.
What about for small businesses?
If you have 49 or fewer employees in the United States and the Act’s expanded leave requirements would threaten the viability of your business, you may be eligible for a small business exemption.
Further guidance on the small business exemption will be provided in the near future.
What employers need to know
What specific reasons can someone go on leave under the FFCRA?
An employee qualifies for paid sick leave (full pay) under the FFCRA if they:
- Are subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19 and cannot telework
- Have been advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19 and cannot telework
- Are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis
- Are caring for an individual subject to a federal, state, local, or doctor’s order to quarantine
- Are caring for a child whose school or source of childcare is closed/unavailable due to COVID-19
- Are experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of Labor and Treasury
An employee qualifies for expanded family leave (2/3 pay) if:
- They are caring for a child whose school or source of childcare is closed/unavailable due to COVID-19
What about part-time employees?
A part-time employee qualifies for paid leave equivalent to their two-week average of hours worked. If part-time employees do not work a set number of hours per week, a six-month average can be calculated for each worker.
What about minimum wage exception workers on leave?
If you have employees who qualify for the minimum wage exception (tipped positions), you must pay them 2/3 of the applicable local minimum wage times their average number of hours worked in a two-week period. If work hours are variable week-to-week, a six-month average can be calculated.
What employees need to know
If you’re reading this summary, you’re likely an HR professional or business leader, but you also have crucial employee education responsibilities during this time. You should pass FFCRA resources along to all your employees and ensure they are aware of their leave eligibility and rights.
Provide your team members with the DOL links at the top of this post to help them understand the legislative protections they have gained. It’s also crucial to be a resource to your employees and help them understand:
- How to file for family or medical leave via HR
- How much they would be paid during their leave
- When they would hypothetically return from leave
- Who to communicate with before and during their leave as well as points of contact for their return
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act has expanded paid leave for employees of small and medium-sized businesses to provide them the security they need to care for themselves and their families. These short-term extensions go into effect at the beginning of April and will offer needed health, safety, and economic stability for millions of Americans.
- All employees are eligible for two weeks of paid sick time at their standard rate if they have Coronavirus, are quarantined, or are exhibiting symptoms pending a diagnosis
- All employees are eligible for two weeks of paid sick time at 2/3 their normal rate to care for a family member who is sick or under quarantine or if they are caring for a child whose school or source of childcare is closed due to COVID-19
- Employees who have been with their employer for more than 30 days are eligible for up to 10 weeks of extended family/medical leave to provide care to children whose schools or sources of childcare are closed due to COVID-19
Families First Coronavirus Response Act Flowchat
Launchways is offering a comprehensive flowchart outlining FMLA & Paid Sick Leave changes in light of the new COVID-19 legislation. Use this flowchart to ensure compliance at your business.
Here’s what’s included:
- Step-by-step flowchart for FMLA expansion
- Step-by-step flowchart for Emergency Paid Sick Leave
- List of special rules & how to apply them
- How to calculate the rate of pay for FMLA & Emergency Paid Sick Leave