Families First Cornonavirus Response Act: Paid Expanded Family and Medical Leave
by Christina Davis, LMC People Director
This blog post is the second in a series. Part One covers the paid sick leave portion of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).
The Paid Expanded Family and Medical Leave is another element of the FFCRA, which applies to employers with fewer than 500 employees and covers the period between April 1 and December 31, 2020. In contrast with traditional FMLA leave which requires 12 months of employment before benefits are available, the Paid Expanded Family and Medical Leave covers employees who have been with their companies for at least 30 days.
In addition to having been with the company for at least 30 days, the employee must be requesting leave in order to care for a child whose school or childcare provider is closed or unavailable for reasons directly related to COVID-19. And in this case, “child” refers to anyone under the age of 18. The first two weeks of this leave are unpaid, and the remaining (up to)10 weeks are paid at 2/3 the employee’s regular rate of pay.
Small Business Exemptions
It's important to note that there are some small business exemptions for companies with fewer than 50 employees. The owner or director of the business must determine that one or more of the following apply in order to receive the exemption:
The employee cannot work on site, the employee cannot work remotely, and the employee cannot work remotely with a different schedule/hours;
The employee’s absence would result in financial hardship for the company, which could lead to a company shut down or closing;
The absence of the employee(s) requesting the leave would cause risk to the financial health or operational capabilities of the company due to his/her specialized skills, knowledge of the business, and/or responsibilities to the business; or
There are no other employees who are able, willing, qualified and who will be able to work at the time and place needed to perform the services provided by the employee(s) requesting the leave, and those hours/services are needed for the company to operate.
Timeline and Eligibility
As with the paid sick leave portion of the FFCRA, the following limitations apply:
If the company closes April 1st or after, but BEFORE an employee requests leave, the employee is NOT eligible for the paid expanded Family and Medical Leave
If the company closes its doors while an employee is on the paid expanded Family and Medical Leave, the company must pay for time used before the company closes. As of the date the company closes its doors, the employee is no longer eligible for the paid leave
If the company enforces a furlough period on April 1st or after, the employee is not eligible for the paid leave
As a reminder, employers are required to inform their employees about this leave. The Department of Labor has created a posting for the place of work which should be emailed to employees who are not onsite during this time.
Although we’ve covered the important pieces of the FFCRA puzzle, there are always caveats and new scenarios that pop up. Feel free to reach out for further clarification or to talk through situations you and your employees may be facing: firstname.lastname@example.org.