Families First Coronavirus Response Act
President Trump signed H.R. 6201 on March 18, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). There is not a lot of time for your business to prepare for it. HR and payroll departments need to immediately ensure compliance with the Act by the effective date, April 2, 2020, which will remain effective until December 31, FFCRA provided provisions which are discussed below, remarkably changes rights to paid sick leave for employees and responsibilities of the employers for providing it. Many economic stimulus measures are contained in the Act.
The FFCRA contains two separate laws that provide temporary relief to employees affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. These are-
Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA)
Employers who will fail to comply with the EPSLA will be penalized under the Fair Labor Standards Act. It will be applicable to employers with less than 500 employees.
Employers are required to provide two workweeks of paid sick leave to all employees for any issue related to the coronavirus irrespective of the employed duration of the employee. Employers are required to provide 80 hours of paid sick leave to full-time employees and part-time employees will also be covered for paid sick leave.
Paid sick leave under the EPSLA conditions-
-If employee needs to self-isolate due to coronavirus positive condition
-If employee needs to self-isolate due to any similar condition like coronavirus.
-If employee need a diagnosis or medical care due to coronavirus condition
-If an employee needs to comply with a recommendation/order by a public official/health care provider to quarantine due to exposure to or symptoms of coronavirus
-If an employee needs to take care of a family member experiencing coronavirus symptoms and is self-isolating for coronavirus diagnosis
-If an employee needs to take care of a child in conditions of closed school/ take care provider is unavailable.
Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA)
The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act expands the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to cover qualifying needs related to a public health emergency. The EFMLEA requires employers with less than 500 employees to provide up to 12 workweeks of leave to employees that qualify under the Act. Unlike EPSLA, here duration of employment matters to qualifying for leave. At least 30 days of employment with the employer is required to qualify and is “unable to work or telecommute due to a need for leave to care for the son or daughter under 18 years of age of such employee if the school or place of care has been closed, or the child care provider of such son or daughter is unavailable.”
The DOL can create regulations that exempt businesses with fewer than 50 employees from the requirements of the EFMLEA but has not acted on this yet.
Additionally, Businesses with less than 25 employees will not be required to restore the job of an employee who takes leave under the EFMLEA if: (i) the employee’s position no longer exists due to economic conditions and (ii) the employer makes reasonable efforts to restore the employee to an equivalent role with equivalent pay and benefits or if a position is not available, the employer must make reasonable efforts for a 1 year period to contact the employee if an equivalent position becomes available.
All the rights provided to employees under the FMLA are applicable to the EFMLEA. Since the FMLA limits the 12 workweeks of leave to any 12-month period, an employee that has already exhausted 12 workweeks of leave under the FMLA in a 12-month period would be prohibited from additional paid leave under the EFMLEA.
Tax Credits for Business
The employers that are required to provide paid leave under the EFMLEA and EPSLA will receive payroll tax credits subject to certain limitations. Employers receive tax credits for 100 percent of what they pay out to employees, with the limits.
DISCLAIMER: Please note that the situation surrounding COVID-19 is evolving and that the subject matter discussed here may change on a daily basis. The information contained in this article is for general education. It is not designed to be, and should not be used as, the sole source of information when analyzing and resolving a legal problem.