Congress has passed and the President has signed the $100 billion Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA” or “the Act”), which is intended to provide relief to struggling employees and their families. The FFCRA will go into effect on April 2, 2020. That’s not a lot of time for your business to prepare. Here’s a brief summary of what is contained in the Act and the benefits it provides.

Qualifying for Coverage

The Act covers all companies with up to 500 employees. Unlike the Family Medical Leave Act, there is no 50-person minimum, and self-employed people can see some benefits. There are six qualifying criteria. An employee need only satisfy one of the six criteria to be eligible for benefits under the Act. The criteria are generally described as follows:

  • 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 care provider to self-quarantine due to medical concerns related to COVID-19;
  • the employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis;
  • the employee is caring for an individual who is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine order, or the individual has been advised to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19;
  • the employee is caring for the employee’s son or daughter, if the child’s school or childcare facility has been closed or the child’s care provider is unavailable due to Covid-19 precautions; or
  • the employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition enumerated by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Benefits for Employees
  • FMLA leave is typically unpaid, but under the FFCRA, employees who are on leave because they are sick can receive their full pay, up to $511 per day, and $5,110 total.
  • Leave taken to care for children whose schools or day care facilities have closed will be paid at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay, with a cap of $200 per day and $10,000 total.
  • Employers will not be able to force you to use up an employee’s PTO, vacation time, or other sick time before receiving this benefit.

There is a 10-day waiting period before this benefit applies. Employees can use existing PTO, sick, or vacation time to cover these days.

Benefits for Employers
  • Employers will receive refundable tax credits for 100 percent of what they pay out to employees, within the above-noted limits.
  • For employers with 50 or fewer employees, the Secretary of Labor may exempt the business from these requirements.
  • Employers with fewer than 25 employees do not have to restore employees to their previous positions after any paid leave is complete.
Additional Specific Information

The final version of the Act limited the definition of “family member” to only immediate family, which is narrower than under the FMLA.

The bill does not provide coverage for people who are in quarantine or carrying for others in quarantine if they are not actually ill.

Make sure your business understands the ramifications of the FFCRA and how it applies to your business. It is essential to comply with the new law. to avoid potential liability and penalties. When in doubt, call your employment attorney.

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