In response to the COVID-19 virus that is sweeping across the world, Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The provisions included in the FFCRA are currently set to apply through December 31, 2020.
The FFCRA requires employers who meet certain standards to provide employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specific reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The FFCRA covers all public employers, regardless of how many employees they have, and private employers with less than 500 employees.
However, employers with less than 50 employees may qualify for an exemption from the requirement to provide leave due to school closings or childcare unavailability if the leave requirements would jeopardize the business’ viability.
Every employee of a covered employer will be eligible for paid sick leave for qualifying reasons relating to COVID-19. However, employees who are laid off or furloughed are not entitled to leave under the FFCRA.
Paid Sick Leave
The FFCRA provides that employees of covered employers are eligible for two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at their regular rate of pay when the employee is unable to work because of COVID-19.
The FFCRA also allows an employee of a qualifying employer up to two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at two-thirds (2/3) their regular rate of pay when they are unable to work because they are caring for someone due COVID-19 related reasons.
The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA) under the FFCRA also provides up to 12 workweeks of job-protected leave. The initial two weeks are unpaid; however, the employee may use vacation, personal, medical or sick leave that they have accrued during this initial two weeks. During the additional 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave the employee is paid at 2/3 of their regular rate of pay. This expanded leave only applies to employees who have been employed for at least thirty (30) calendar days and are unable to work due to a bona fide need to leave to care for a child whose school or childcare provider is closed or unavailable due to COVID-19. However, any employees who have already used 12 weeks of leave under the FMLA will not be able to use EFMLEA leave.
Qualifying Reasons for Leave Under the FFCRA
Under the FFCRA an employee qualifies for paid sick leave if the employee is unable to work (or unable to telework) due to the following reasons:
- 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 practitioner to self-quarantine due to COVID-19
- the employee is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis
- the employee is caring for someone subject to a quarantine or isolation order
- the employee is caring for someone who has been advised to self-quarantine by a practitioner
- the employee is caring for a child whose school or childcare is closed or unavailable due to COVID-19
- or the employee is experiencing any other substantially-similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of Labor and Treasury.
For more information, calls us at (580) 234-6600 to discuss the FFCRA.