1. The FFCRA paid leave provisions only apply to businesses with fewer than 500 employees

This coverage includes not-for-profit employers, with certain exemptions for small businesses with fewer than 50 employees. While employees of most public and federal agencies of any size are covered for paid sick leave, eligibility varies for extended family leave.

 

  1. Employers with fewer than 50 employees can apply for an exemption from the expanded family leave provisions

Smaller employers may be able to qualify for an exemption from providing leave to care for a dependent whose school or place of care is closed due to COVID-19 if the required leave would “jeopardize the viability of the business.” For further information on exemption, refer to the Department of Labor’s FAQs.

 

  1. Family leave provisions now include caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed

The FFCRA adds a new reason for qualifying leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This provision — the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA) — includes cases where the employee is unable to work in person or remotely because they are caring for a son or daughter whose school or place of care is closed or their childcare provider is unavailable due to COVID-19.

The EFMLEA provides up to 12 workweeks of job-protected leave with health insurance in 2020, between April 1 and December 31. The initial two weeks of leave are unpaid, while any additional time taken is paid at two-thirds of the employee’s regular rate of pay, up to a maximum of $200 per day and $10,000 in total.  Employees can choose to use paid sick leave under the FFCRA or other accrued paid time off during the unpaid portion of the EFMLEA leave.

 

  1. Family leave is still capped at 12 weeks

The leave afforded by the EFMLEA isn’t an extension on leave but a new reason for eligible leave under the FMLA. If an employee has already taken 12 weeks of leave under the FMLA during the applicable calendar period, they would not be entitled to additional time under the EFMLEA during that period. Employees are eligible for EFMLEA leave for a combined total of up to 12 weeks or the maximum amount of leave available under the FMLA.

 

  1. Paid sick leave is now required under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA)

Qualifying employers are now required to offer emergency paid sick leave under the FFCRA to employees that meet one of six criteria for absences relating to COVID-19:

  1. They’re subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19
  2. They’re advised by their health care provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19
  3. They’re experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis
  4. They’re caring for an individual subject to a quarantine or isolation order or advised to self-quarantine
  5. They’re caring for a son or daughter whose school or place of care is closed or if their caregiver is unavailable due toto COVID-19
  6. They’re experiencing another substantially similar condition as specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Employees receive two weeks of paid sick leave and continued health insurance. Full-time employees can take up to 80 hours and part-time employees may use up to the number of hours based on their average hours worked over a two-week period.

 

  1. Employees taking sick leave for coronavirus-related absences are paid at different rates for different leave reasons

Employees qualifying for leave for the first three reasons on this list are paid at their regular rate up to a maximum of $511 per day and $5,110 in total.

Employees qualifying for leave for reasons four through six on this list can receive their regular rate of pay up to $200 per day and $2,000 in total.

Taking emergency paid sick leave for qualifying reasons doesn’t impact time off that an employee receives from their employer for paid sick leave, vacation, or other paid time off or permitted leave.

 

  1. The FFCRA is effective from April 1, 2020, until December 31, 2020

Employee paid sick leave or family leave taken prior to April 1 for reasons related to COVID-19 wouldn’t qualify for the paid leave benefits outlined in the FFCRA. Employers would process the leave under other company leave polices like accrued time off.  If FMLA leave was taken prior to April 1, the remaining leave available under the EFMLEA would be reduced.

 

  1. Eligibility is different for paid sick leave and covered extended FMLA

All employees covered under the FFCRA are eligible for up to two weeks of paid sick leave for reasons related to COVID-19. Employees who have been with a covered employer for at least 30 days are eligible for leave under the EFMLEA.

 

  1.  Health care and emergency response organizations may be excluded from paid sick leave and extended family leave on a case-by-case basis

Employees whose roles provide essential services in the health care industry or who are emergency responders may not be eligible for leave under the FFCRA. Employers should refer to the Department of Labor for further guidance on eligibility for employees of this nature.

 

  1. Eligible businesses will receive tax credits for emergency paid sick leave and EFMLEA

To help offset the expense of providing emergency sick leave and paid EFMLEA benefits, private companies are eligible to receive a refundable tax credit for the leave paid out each quarter. Credits will be applied against an employer’s already-owed social security taxes. More information on the tax credits is available through the IRS.

 

Stay current on changing legislation

Read more about the FFCRA and find answers to frequently asked questions. To better navigate the changing landscape  and stay informed, visit Guardian’s resource center for current information.

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