Congress Expands Sick and Leave Time

By VICKY BROWN

Congress recently passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which will be effective April 1, 2020 – December 31, 2020.

A summary of the act follows.  Please keep in mind, during this time of emergency, legislation is being quickly passed, and must remains to be deciphered by counsel.  The following is a very general guide, provided by the US Department of Labor (https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-employer-paid-leave).  It is provided for general informational purposes only, and not intended to be, nor should it be considered, legal advice.

Expanded Paid Sick Leave (at 100% pay)

  • Covered Employer – all employers with 500 or less employees
  • Time – Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave
  • Employee Eligibility – all employees
  • Pay Rate – the employee’s regular rate of pay to a maximum of $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate 2 week period
  • Reason for leave: the employee is
    • unable to work because the employee is quarantined (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider)
    • experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis

“Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees may qualify for exemption from the requirement to provide leave due to school closings or child care unavailability if the leave requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern.”

Expanded Paid Sick Leave (at 66% pay)

  • Covered Employer – all employers with 500 or less employees
  • Time – Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave
  • Employee Eligibility – all employees
  • Pay Rate – 66% or employee’s regular rate of pay to a maximum of $200 per day and $2,000 in the aggregate 2 week period; (unless caring for a displaced child, in which case expanded FMLA applies, and the aggregate is $12,000 over a 12 week period, 2 weeks of Paid Sick Leave + 10 weeks of Expanded FMLA)
  • Reason for leave: the employee
    • has a bona fide need to care for an individual subject to quarantine (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider)
    • to care for a child (under 18 years of age) whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19
    • and/or employee is experiencing a substantially similar condition as specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of the Treasury and Labor

Expanded FMLA

  • Covered Employer – all employers with 500 or less employees
  • Time – Ten weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave
  • Pay Rate – 66% or employee’s regular rate of pay
  • Employee Eligibility – employed for at least 30 calendar days
  • Reason for leave: the employee
    • is unable to work due to a bona fide need for leave to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19

Additional Information:

  • Posting Requirements: Each covered employer must post in a conspicuous place on its premises (we recommend also sending to remote workers)
  • Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees may qualify for exemption from the requirement to provide leave due to school closings or child care unavailability if the leave requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern.
  • Where leave is foreseeable, an employee should provide notice of leave to the employer as is practicable. After the first workday of paid sick time, an employer may require employees to follow reasonable notice procedures in order to continue receiving paid sick time.
  • Under the FFCRA, an employee qualifies for paid sick time if the employee is unable to work (or unable to telework) due to a qualifying reason
  • Part time employees are eligible for leave for the number of hours that the employee is normally scheduled to work over the period
  • Covered employers qualify for dollar-for-dollar reimbursement through tax credits for all qualifying wages paid under the FFCRA. Qualifying wages are those paid to an employee who takes leave under the Act for a qualifying reason, up to the appropriate per diem and aggregate payment caps. Applicable tax credits also extend to amounts paid or incurred to maintain health insurance coverage. For more information, please see the Department of the Treasury’s website.
  • Employers may not discharge, discipline, or otherwise discriminate against any employee who takes paid sick leave under the FFCRA and files a complaint or institutes a proceeding under or related to the FFCR

We will continue to provide COVID-19 related updates as they become available.

The preceding is provided for general informational purposes only, and not intended to constitute legal advice.

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