The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) is set to go in effect April 1, 2020. It includes many provisions which apply to employers in regards to two provisions: 1) providing emergency paid sick leave, and 2) expansion of the Family Medical Leave Act for employees impacted by COVID-19.
Here is what employers need to know regarding the FFCRA.
Emergency Paid Sick Leave
Coverage and Eligibility
- The Emergency Paid Sick Leave applies to businesses with less than 500 employees.
- Employers must provide two weeks paid sick leave to full-time employees regardless of their length of employment.
Reasons for Emergency Paid Sick Leave
Employees are eligible for paid sick leave if they are unable to work in the office or at home for the following reasons:
- An employee is quarantined, either by the government or a health care provider.
- An employee is experiencing symptoms of the Coronavirus and is seeking a diagnosis.
- An employee is caring for someone under quarantine for Coronavirus.
- An employee is caring for children because schools or childcare have closed.
- An employee is experiencing conditions similar to the symptoms of COVID-19.
Wages for Emergency Paid Sick Leave
- Paid sick leave wages are limited to $511 per day and up to $5,110 total per employee and to $200 per day up to $2,000 total to care for others and any other similar condition.
Effective Date and Expiration
- Emergency Paid Sick Leave will become effective on April 1, 2020 and will remain in place until December 31, 2020.
Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act
Coverage and Eligibility
- The threshold for FMLA coverage changes from covering employers with 50 or more employees to covering employers with fewer than 500 employees.
- The new changes cover employees who have been employed for 30 days or more and are unable to work, including at the office or working from home.
- The FFCRA excludes healthcare providers and emergency responders from the definition of employees if leave would threaten the sustainability of the business.
NOTE: Businesses with less than 50 employees are exempt if required leave would jeopardize the business.
Reasons for Expanded Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Leave
- The expansion covers employees who have been employed for 30 days or more and are unable to work, including at the office or working from home.
- Employees may take up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave to care of the employee’s child under the age of 18 if the child’s school or place of care is closed due to a public health emergency.
- This is now the only qualifying need for Emergency FMLA
- The first 10 days of Emergency FMLA may be unpaid.
- During this 10-day period, an employee may use any accrued paid time off or sick time to cover some or all of the 10-day unpaid period. OR
- Can use the two weeks of Emergency Paid Sick Leave
- After the 10-day waiting period, the employer must pay full-time employees at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate for the number of hours the employee would otherwise be normally scheduled.
- The new act now limits this pay entitlement to $200 per day and $10,000 in total for each employee.
Pay for Part-Time Employees
- Employees who work a part-time or irregular schedule are entitled to be paid based on the average number of hours the employee worked for the six months prior to taking Emergency FMLA.
- Employees who have worked for less than six months prior to leave are entitled to the employee’s reasonable expectation at hiring of the average number of hours the employee would normally be scheduled to work.
- Employers with 25 or more employees will have the same responsibility, as under traditional FMLA, to return an employee to the same or equivalent position when they return to work.
- Employers with fewer than 25 employees are generally excluded from this requirement if the employee’s position no longer exists following the Emergency FMLA leave due to an economic downtown or other circumstances caused by a public health emergency during the period of Emergency FMLA.
- Employers must make reasonable attempts to return the employee to an equivalent position and attempt to return the employee to work for up to a year following the employee’s leave.
Effective Date and Expiration
- Emergency FMLA will become effective on April 1, 2020 and will remain in place until December 31, 2020.
Tax Credits for Employers Related to Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Emergency FMLA
- Refundable tax credits for employers required to provide Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Emergency FMLA leave will be provided.
- Tax credits are allowed against the employer portion of Social Security taxes.
- Employers will be reimbursed if their costs for qualified sick leave or qualified family leave wages exceed the taxes they would owe.
- Employers are eligible for a refundable tax credit equal to 100% of the qualified sick leave wages paid by employers for each calendar quarter in relation with the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and Emergency Family Medical Leave Expansion Act.
- Employers with 500 or less employees are required to offer Emergency FMLA and Emergency Paid Sick Leave and may receive these credits.
Coverage for COVID-19 Testing
- This section of the act requires private health plans (including insured, self-insured, and grandfathered) to provide coverage for COVID-19 diagnostic testing and related services to employees and their covered dependents without cost to the employee through the end of the national emergency period.
- This includes costs such as a deductible or coinsurance.
- Services covered include diagnostic testing, healthcare provider services and facility costs for evaluating COVID-19 diagnosis and treatment.
- Health plans should not require authorization or similar medical management requirements for testing or services.
You can find additional information regarding the FFCRA for employers in a fact sheet provided by the Department of Labor. Additionally, a new FFCRA poster is available to be posted in the workplace as well as online or through email for remote workers.
For additional updates and HR assistance with business planning and employee communications related to the COVID-19 pandemic, contact Close HR Connections.