Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Key Provisions
Congress has now passed, and the president has now signed, H.R. 6201, also known as the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act.” The law contains two important provisions that affect employers and employees: the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act. Both of these Acts will apply to all private employers and covered public agencies with fewer than 500 employees. The basic requirements of each Act are set forth below.
Emergency Paid Sick Leave
How Much Leave is Provided?
- Full-time employees are entitled to 80 hours of paid sick leave
- Part-time employees are entitled to paid sick leave for the number of hours that the employee works, on average, over a 2-week period
How Much Must an Employee Be Paid?
The paid sick leave provisions apply to employees who are unable to work or telework for qualified reasons. The amount an employee needs to be compensated for the leave depends upon the qualifying circumstance.
- Employees who are unable to work or telework for any of the following reasons are entitled to their full-rate of pay, subject to a $511 per day cap ($5,110 aggregate cap):
- The employee is complying with a Federal, State or local quarantine or isolation order;
- The employee’s health care provider has recommended self-quarantine;
- The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19;
- Employees who are unable to work or telework for any of the following reasons are entitled to two-thirds their rate of pay, subject to a $200 per day cap ($2,000 aggregate cap):
- The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to an order or recommendation to self-quarantine. Please note there appears to be no requirement that this “individual” is a family member;
- The employee is caring for their child if a school or place of care is closed, or the childcare provider is unavailable due to COVID-19 precautions; or
- The employee is experiencing “any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of Treasury and the Secretary of Labor.”
What if We Already Offer Paid Leave?
- If your current employment policies provide for paid sick leave, you cannot substitute that benefit for paid leave owed under Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act. In other words, employees would be entitled to paid leave both under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, as well as under your company policy.
- Employers may not require employees to use their company-provided paid sick leave for using leave under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act.
Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act
Which Employees are Eligible?
- Any part-time or full-time employee who has worked for the employer for at least 30 calendar days is eligible for leave.
When May Leave Be Used?
- Eligible employees may use leave if they are unable to work (or telework) to care for their children under age 18 if their children’s school is closed or their child care facility or provider is unavailable to provide care due to a state of emergency relating to COVID-19.
Type of Leave Benefits Available?
- Eligible employees are entitled to 12 weeks of protected leave.
- The first 10 days of leave may be unpaid. During those initial 10 days, however, an employee may use any accrued paid-time off benefits (company-provided vacation, personal, or sick leave), including emergency paid sick leave pursuant to the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (discussed above).
- After the first 10 days of leave, employers must pay employees two-thirds of their normal pay rate, subject to a $200/day cap ($10,000 aggregate cap)
- FMLA’s normal job restoration requirements apply, except that there are limited exceptions for employers with fewer than 25 employees.
This is still a preliminary synopsis, which we will update as we obtain answers to some of the numerous questions raised by the new law. For instance, the law provides that it “shall take effect not later than 15 days after the date of enactment. . . .” What that means in the context of employees who are unable to work today is still unclear to us.
Our team at Pashman Stein Walder Hayden is available to discuss these provisions and the impact it may have on your business or individual circumstances.