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Federal legislation was enacted on March 18, 2020 providing opportunities for paid leave to American workers impacted by the COVID-19 epidemic. The legislation, entitled Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), has two components: the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act. The Department of Labor announced yesterday that the FFCRA will be effective from April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020. Both components of the FFCRA are applicable to employers with fewer than 500 employees (although exemptions from certain provisions may be allowed for some small businesses with fewer than 25 or 50 employees under certain circumstances related to hardship).
The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act expands the entitlements for job-protected leave under the FMLA. Under the new Act, employees are entitled to FMLA leave if the employee is unable to work (or telework) due to a need to care for his or her minor child if the child’s school or place of care is closed or unavailable due to COVID-19. The Act applies to all employees who have worked for the company for 30 calendar days. Eligible employees are entitled to up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave. The first two weeks of leave can be unpaid, but weeks 3 – 12 are paid at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay. The maximum pay permitted under the Act is $200 per day or $10,000 total. Employees may choose to apply accrued PTO for the unpaid portion of the leave, but cannot be required to do so.
The Emergency Paid Sick Leave component of the FFCRA can also be used to fill in the two-week pay gap. Under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, all employees are entitled to two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay if the employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined by order of law or medical advice or suffering symptoms of COVID-19. Employees are entitled to two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay if the employee is unable to work because the employee needs to care for an individual subject to quarantine, the employee is caring for his or her minor child whose school or place of care is closed or unavailable due to COVID-19, or other similar circumstances. The maximum pay permitted under this Act is $511 per day or $5,110 total for pay at the regular rate and $200 per day or $2,000 total for two-thirds pay. Employers are required to post a notice advising employees of their rights to emergency paid leave on their premises.
Importantly, covered employers paying qualified wages pursuant to the FFCRA will be entitled to a dollar-for-dollar offsetting tax credit. The Department of Labor will issue regulations applicable to the FFCRA in April.
Given the evolving news and updates around the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), Howard, Stallings, From, Atkins, Angell & Davis remains open for business, and our offices remain staffed appropriately to meet your needs. While many of our attorneys and staff will be working remotely during the coming weeks, rest assured that we are still available to you, our phone numbers and emails are still the best way to reach us. We understand that you may have legal questions as we forge the path ahead. We remain dedicated to your success and are here for you. Let us know how we can help.
For your reference, we are compiling and analyzing state and federal legal updates here, which may effect your business. Visit our Business Legal Resource Center for updates.