The Families First Coronavirus Response Act has been signed into law. While the final bill remains similar to the earlier version, there are a few significant changes. The law goes into effect April 2, 2020.
The bill contains two main provisions – the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act. Both provisions apply to employers with less than 500 employees.
Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act
- Reasons for Paid Sick Leave – if the employee is:
- subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine order related to COVID-19
- advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19 concerns
- experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking medical diagnosis
- caring for an individual (not limited to family members) subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order or has been advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19 concerns
- caring for the employee’s child if the child’s school or place of care is closed or the child’s care provider is unavailable due to COVID-19 concerns
- experiencing any other substantially similar conditions specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor.
- Employee Eligibility and Amount of Leave:
- Full-time employees are eligible to take up to 80 hours of paid sick leave
- Part-time employees are eligible for the number of hours equal to the number of hours they work, on average, over a two-week period
- Employees are eligible regardless of their tenure with the employer
- Rate of Pay:
- If employees are absent due to their own COVID-19 related conditions, they must be paid at their regular rate of pay. However, the employer may cap the payment at $511 per day up to $5,110 maximum per employee
- If employees are absent due to the need to care for another person, they must be paid at two-thirds their regular rate of pay. However, the employer may cap the payment at $200 per day up to $2,000 maximum per employee
- Intersection with Existing Employer Policies:
- Employers may not require employees to first use benefits under an existing paid time off (PTO) or sick leave policy
- Employers must offer the paid sick leave provided under this Act in addition to any leave the employer already provides
EMERGENCY FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE EXPANSION ACT
This Act amends the traditional Family and Medical Leave Act to provide job-protected leave for a public health emergency related to COVID-19.
- Reasons for Leave:
- The only circumstance under which an employer is required to provide leave under this Act is when an employee is unable to work (or telework) because the employee’s child’s school or child care center is closed, or the child’s care provider is unavailable due to COVID-19.
- Employee Eligibility:
- Employees must have worked for the employer for at least 30 calendar days
- Full-time and part-time employees are eligible
- Rate of Pay:
- The first two weeks are unpaid
- After the first two weeks, leave is paid at two-thirds of the employee’s usual pay, with a cap of $200 per day.
- For employees with schedules that vary from week to week, a six-month average is to be used to calculate the number of hours to be paid.
- Key Differences between traditional FMLA and the FMLA Expansion Act:
- The FMLA Expansion Act removes the requirement that the employer must employ 50 employees within a 75-mile radius
- The 12-month and 1,250-hour employee qualification for employees has been shortened to 30 calendar days
- FMLA is typically unpaid; however, leave under the Expansion Act is paid after the first two weeks