Understand How the Families First Coronavirus Response Act Affects You

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requires certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. The Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division administers and enforces the new law’s paid leave requirements, which are effective through December 31, 2020.

The paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave provisions of the FFCRA apply to certain public employers, and private employers with fewer than 500 employees. Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees may qualify for exemption from the requirement to provide leave due to school closings or child care unavailability if the leave requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business as a growing concern.

Covered employers qualify for dollar-for-dollar reimbursement through tax credits for all qualifying wages paid under the FFCRA. Qualifying wages are those paid to an employee who takes leave under the Act for a qualifying reason, up to the appropriate per diem and aggregate payment caps. Applicable tax credits also extend to amounts paid or incurred to maintain health insurance coverage.

Employers covered by the Act must provide all employees with:

  • Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular pay rate where the employee is unable to work because of being quarantined (pursuant to federal, state or local government order or advice of a healthcare provider), and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis; or
  • Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular pay rate because the employee is unable to work because of a bona fide need to care for an individual subject to quarantine (pursuant to federal, state or local government order or advice of a health care provider), or care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19, and/or the employee is experiencing a substantially similar condition.

Employers covered by the Act also must provide to those who have been employed for at least 30 days up to an additional ten weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular pay rate where an employee is unable to work due to a bona fide need for leave to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.

Qualifying Reasons for Leave

Under the FFCRA, an employee qualifies for paid sick time if the employee is unable to work or telework due to a need for leave because the employee:

  1. Is subject to a federal, state or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
  2. Has been advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19;
  3. Is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
  4. Is caring for an individual subject to an order described in (1) or self-quarantine as described in (2);
  5. Is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) for reasons related to COVID-19; or
  6. 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.

Duration of Leave

For reasons (1)-(4) and (6), a full-time employee is eligible for up to 80 hours of leave, and a part-time employee is eligible for the number of hours of leave that the employee works on average over a two-week period. For reason (5), a full-time employee is eligible for up to 12 weeks of leave at 40 hours a week, and a part-time employee is eligible for leave for the number of hours that the employee is normally scheduled to work over that period.

Pay Calculation

The amount of pay an employee receives depends upon the reason for leave. For reasons (1)-(3),

employees taking leave shall be paid at either their regular rate or the applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher, up to $511 per day and $5,110 in total (over a two-week period).

For reasons (4) or (6), employees taking leave shall be paid at 2/3 their regular rate or 2/3 the applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher, up to $200 per day and $2,000 in total (over a two-week period).

For reason (5), employees taking leave shall be paid at 2/3 their regular rate or 2/3 the applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher, up to $200 per day and $12,000 in total (over a 12-week period—two weeks of paid sick leave followed by up to ten weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave).

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