Families First Coronavirus Response Act
March 25, 2020
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requires certain employers to provide employees with expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19.
The FFCRA’s paid leave provisions are effective on April 1, 2020, and apply to leave taken between April 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020.
There are two provisions in FFCRA:
- Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act
- Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act
Employers are required to post a notice that details the FFCRA requirements. The Department of Labor has issued a sample poster.
The expanded family and medical leave provisions of the FFCRA apply to certain public and private employers with fewer than 500 employees.
There is a provision where small businesses with fewer than 50 employees may qualify for exemption from the requirement to provide leave due to school closings or childcare unavailability if the leave requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business.
(Note: the provisions for this exemption have not been released at the time of this writing.)
All employees of covered employers are eligible for two weeks of expanded family and medical leave for qualified reasons related to COVID-19.
Employees employed for at least 30 days are eligible for up to an additional 10 weeks of paid family leave to care for a child under certain circumstances related to COVID-19.
Reasons for Leave
An employee qualifies for paid sick time if the employee is unable to work (including telework) because the employee:
- is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
- has been advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19;
- is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
- is caring for an individual subject to an order described in (1) or self-quarantining as described in (2);
- is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed or if childcare provider is unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19;
- is experiencing any other substantially similar conditions specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of Labor and Treasury.
Duration of Leave
For Reasons (1) – (4) and (6)
A full-time employee is eligible for 80 hours of leave.
A part-time employee is eligible for the number of hours of leave that the employee works on average over a two-week period.
For Reason (5)
A full-time employee is eligible for up to 12 weeks of leave (two weeks of paid sick leave followed by up to 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave) at 40 hours a week.
A part-time employee is eligible for leave for the number of hours that the employee is normally scheduled to work over that period.
For Reasons (1), (2), or (3)
Employees taking leave are entitled to pay at either their regular rate or the applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher. It is capped up to $511 per day and $5,110 in aggregate over a two-week period.
For Reasons (4) or (6)
Employees taking leave are entitled to pay at 2/3 their regular rate or 2/3 the applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher. It is capped up to $200 per day and $2,000 in the aggregate over a two-week period.
For Reasons (5)
Employees taking leave are entitled to pay at 2/3 their regular rate or 2/3 the applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher. It is capped up to $200 per day and $12,000 in the aggregate over a 12-week period.
Employers qualify for a dollar-for-dollar reimbursement through tax credits for all qualifying wages paid under the FFCRA. Qualifying wages are defined as those paid to an employee who takes leave under the FFCRA for a qualifying reason, up to the appropriate per diem and aggregate payment caps.
Tax credits also extend to amounts paid or incurred to maintain health insurance coverage.
Eligible employers will be able to retain an amount of the payroll taxes equal to the amount of qualifying sick and childcare leave that they pay. If there are not sufficient payroll taxes to cover the cost of the leave paid, employers will be able to file a request for an accelerated payment from the IRS.
(Note: The IRS and Department of Treasury will release additional information about these tax credits and how to obtain them in the upcoming week, as of this writing.)