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Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) is Passed by the House and Senate, Will Require Employers with Fewer Than 500 Employees to Provide Paid Leave

Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) is Passed by the House and Senate, Will Require Employers with Fewer Than 500 Employees to Provide Paid Leave

March 18, 2020, 4:00 p.m.

The Senate just passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), previously passed by the House on Monday, March 16.  It is now headed to President Trump for signature and will go into effect soon. Here are the key aspects of the Bill for employers to be aware of:

  • Expansion of FMLA: This law expands FMLA coverage on a temporary basis to any workplace with fewer than 500 employees, and covers employees who have been working for at least 30 calendar days prior to the leave (rather than a year). 
    • It provides for up to 12 weeks of leave (partially paid, except for the first two weeks, which is covered by the paid sick leave provision below) for employees who are unable to work (or telework) 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 childcare provider is unavailable, due to a public health emergency.
      • “Child care provider” means a provider who receives compensation for providing child care services on a regular basis, including “eligible child care provider” as defined by 42 U.S.C. § 9858n.
      • “School” means an “elementary school” or “secondary school” as such terms are defined in 20 U.S.C. § 7801.
    • The first 14 days are “unpaid” (but see below) and employees can use other available paid leave. After the first 14 days, employees must be paid at 2/3 the regular rate of pay, up to $200/day and $10,000 in the aggregate.
      • For part-time employees, employers must calculate the appropriate leave using an average hours/day over the previous six months, or if not possible, the average number of hours per day the employee is normally scheduled to work.
    • Exceptions may be granted by the Department of Labor to small businesses (less than 50 employees) if they demonstrate hardship (if this paid leave would “jeopardize the viability of the business”), and for health care providers and emergency responders. Once this bill is enacted, regulations and procedures for making such requests are expected to be quickly issued.  
    • Because this is a temporary expansion of FMLA, be mindful of potential interference and retaliation claims for violations of this law.
    • A tax credit will be available for these leave payments.
    • All aspects of this FMLA expansion expire at the end of calendar year 2020.
  • Paid Sick Leave:
    • Employers with fewer than 500 employees are required to provide full-time employees up to 80 hours of paid sick leave (up to $511/day, $5,110 in the aggregate), or 2/3 pay if caring for a family member or child home from school (see (4) (5) and (6) below) for circumstances related to COVID-1 because:
      • (1) the employee is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
      • (2) the employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine because of COVID-19;
      • (3) the employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
      • (4) the employee is caring for an individual subject or advised to quarantine or isolation;
      • (5) the employee is caring for a son or daughter whose school or place of care is closed, or child care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 precautions; or
      • (6) the employee is experiencing substantially similar conditions as specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of Labor and Treasury.
    • Employees are immediately eligible for this paid leave, regardless of tenure.
    • Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees and health care providers/emergency responders may be entitled to a hardship exemption.
    • Part-time employees get the number of hours they worked on average in the prior six-month period, per day, or the reasonable expectation of the employee at the time of hiring regarding the number of hours per day.
    • This paid sick time shall be made available in addition to any paid leave already provided to employees. (And employers cannot change their sick leave policies to avoid this “add-on.”)
    • This applies to all “public agency” employers, regardless of number of employees.
    • This law also expires at the end of the 2020.
    • There will be a tax credit to employers on payroll taxes for sick leave paid. 
  • People who are self-employed: People who are self-employed but work for another employer (such as Lyft/Uber), will be eligible for a tax credit of up to two weeks of sick pay at their average pay (capped at $511/day) if they are sick or, if caring for a family member, 2/3 of pay.

The legislation automatically goes into effect 15 days after enactment, but it may go into effect sooner than that at the discretion of the Treasury Secretary.

Please contact the lawyer you regularly work with regarding questions about how this legislation applies to you, or the author of this summary, Christine Hart, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (251) 694-6358.

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