By Mark R. Filipp

The following Q & A has been selected from Employment Law Answer Book, co-authored by Mark R. Filipp.

Q 1:83.1 What is The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”)?

The FFCRA, signed into law on March 18, 2020, provides several emergency provisions to provide for reimbursable paid family leave and paid sick leave for circumstances related to COVID-19. The FFCRA is applicable to all private employers with fewer than 500 employees from April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020. The FFCRA contains two key components. One involves the expansion of the FMLA under the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (“EFMLEA”) and the other provides for paid sick leave under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (“EPSLA”).

Under the EFMLEA, employees that have been on their employer’s payroll for at least 30 days may use emergency FMLA leave for up to 12 weeks for a qualifying need related to COVID-19, as follows:

  • When the employee is unable to work or telework due to a need to care for their son or daughter under 18 years of age if the child’s school or place of care has been closed, or the child care provider of the child is unavailable due to COVID-19.
  • Under the EFMLEA the first 2 weeks of leave are unpaid. After the first 2 weeks of unpaid leave, the employer must pay the employee at a rate no less than 2/3 of the employee’s usual rate of pay, up to a maximum of $200 per day, or $10,000 total.

Under the EPSLA, employers are required to provide full-time employees with 80 hours of paid sick leave for specific reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the EPSLA, the employer shall provide each employee with paid sick time to the extent the employee is unable to work, or telework due to a need for leave because:

  • The employee is subject to a federal, state or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
  • The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19;
  • The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
  • The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to an order as described above;
  • The employee is caring for a son or daughter because the school or place of care of the son or daughter has been closed or the child care provider of such son or daughter is unavailable due to COVID-19 reasons.

If the use of paid leave is attributable to the employee’s quarantine order or COVID-19 symptoms, the employee is entitled to 80 hours of pay at the employee’s regular rate, up to a maximum of $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate. If the paid sick time is attributable to circumstances of caring for a son or daughter, the employee is entitled to 2/3 of their pay up to a maximum of $200 per day and $2,000 in the aggregate.

The costs attributable to providing paid family leave and paid sick leave under the FFCRA are reimbursable by the federal government through the employer’s utilization of tax credits.

This text originally appeared in Employment Law Answer Book, Ninth Edition (Wolters Kluwer, 2020). Reprinted with permission.

For further information regarding these matters, please contact Mr. Filipp at 248.619.2580 or via email.