Among other things, the Law amends FMLA and expands employee leave rights for coping with the virus
On March 18, 2020, President Trump signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA – H.R. 6201) which expands employee leave rights, including paid leave, for individuals dealing with the COVID-19.
FFCRA also includes the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act which amends the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). It requires employers that employ fewer than 500 employees to allow individuals who have been employed for at least 30 days to take up to 12 weeks of FMLA medical leave due to a “Qualifying Need Related to a Public Health Emergency.”
A “qualifying need related to a public health emergency with respect to leave” means the employee is unable to work (or telework) due to a need for leave to care for the son or daughter under the age of 18 of such employee if the school or place of care has been closed, or if the child care provider of such son or daughter is unavailable, due to a public health emergency.
The first 10 days of the leave may be unpaid; however, after that the employer must provide paid leave at the rate calculated based on (a) an amount not less than two-thirds of the employee’s normal rate of pay and (b) the number of hours the employee would otherwise normally be scheduled to work. The paid leave shall not exceed $200 per day and $10,000 in the aggregate.
Upon returning to work, most employers are required to make reasonable efforts to restore them to the same or equivalent job, except for employers with less than 25 employees.
FFCRA also includes the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (“The Sick Leave Act”) and requires employers to provide sick leave for identified situations, including those employees that self-isolate as advised by a health care provider. Full-time employees must be provided 80 hours of COVID-19 related paid sick leave. Part-time employees are to be provided the number of sick leave hours that they typically work over a two-week period.
The cost of both types of paid leave may be offset by employers with tax credits outlined in the Act. The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act and the Sick Leave Act take effect 10 day from the signing of the law and end on December 31, 2020.