Updated: Dec 8, 2022
by Christina Davis, LMC People Director
FFCRA, EFMLA, FMLA, FLSA, OSHA, ERISA, ADA . . . and the list goes on and on.
If it wasn’t hard enough already for employers to ensure compliance with the various local, state, and federal employment laws, the U.S. government has added a new one with two categories. However, this one is special and helps employees affected by the #COVID-19 pandemic. It’s called the Families First #Coronavirus Response Act (#FFCRA), and the two components include emergency paid sick leave and family medical leave. The FFCRA covers all employers with fewer than 500 employees, runs from April 1 – December 30, 2020, and specifically addresses leaves related to COVID-19.
This blog post will address paid sick leave. A second blog post will be published soon and will cover family medical leave.
FFCRA Emergency Paid Sick Leave
The paid sick leave allows for paid leave up to two weeks (80 hours for full-time employees and the two-week equivalent for part-time employees) for employees who have been with the company for at least 30 days. Employees who are eligible for this benefit must be unable to work (including working remotely) for one of these qualifying reasons related to COVID-19:
Employee is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine order
Employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine
Employee is experiencing symptoms and is seeking medical diagnosis
Employee is caring for an individual subject to an order described in #1 or #2 Employee is caring for his/her child whose school or place of care is closed (or childcare provider is unavailable)
Employee is experiencing other substantially similar conditions as specified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
The amount of pay employees receive depends on the qualifying reason for their leave:
For reasons 1, 2, or 3 above, they are eligible for 100% of their pay (maximum $511/day and $5,100 total)
For reasons 4 or 6 above, they are eligible for 2/3 of their pay (maximum $200/day and $2,000 total)
For reason 5 above, they are eligible for 2/3 of their pay (maximum $200/day and $12,000 total due to family and medical leave)
Small Business Exemption
Small businesses may be exempt from providing the paid sick leave if they meet all three of these conditions:
The company has fewer than 50 employees
The leave is based on qualifying reason 5 (due to a school or childcare closure or the unavailability of a childcare provider)
An owner/director determines that providing the leave to that employee would result in the financial hardship for the company due to the employee’s knowledge, skills, or responsibilities
If the place of work is closed on or after April 1, but BEFORE an employee takes any leave, the employee is NOT eligible for paid sick leave benefits, but is eligible to file for unemployment
If the employer closes the place of work on or after April 1 while an employee is on FFCRA leave, the employer is required to pay for any paid sick leave used BEFORE the place of work is closed. As of the date the employer closes the place of work, the employee is no longer entitled to future FFCRA benefits, but is eligible to file for unemployment
If the employer enacts a furlough period on or after April 1, the employee is not eligible for FFCRA benefits, but is eligible to file for unemployment
Employers are required to inform their employees about this leave. The Department of Labor has created a posting that must be displayed at the place of work. If your company is shut down for now, the posting must be emailed or mailed to each employee.
The FFCRA is complex. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out for further clarification and details to firstname.lastname@example.org.