Virtus Law is providing this quick update regarding the recently passed Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
The Act consists of two types of leave, Paid Sick Leave and Family and Medical Leave. Both types of leave apply to employers with fewer than 500 employees. Employers with under 50 employees may apply for a exemption, although the exact rules of that process are unclear at this time.
Emergency Paid Sick Leave
This type of leave under the act applies just to the individual employee himself/herself and provides for 10 days (80 hours) of paid sick leave (paid at the employee’s regular rate of pay). The leave applies to situations where 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 concerns related to Covid-19;
- the employee is experiencing symptoms of Covid-19 and seeking 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 child care 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 specified by Health and Human Services in consultation with the Department of the Treasury and the Department of Labor.
The sick leave is paid at the employee’s full salary if the sick leave is due to reasons #1, #2, or #3 above and is capped at $511 per day. The sick leave is paid at two-thirds the employee’s usual rate of pay if taken for reasons #4, #5, or #6 above, and is capped at $200 per day ($2,000 total).
Emergency Family and Medical Leave
Under this type of leave, an employer must provide up to 12 weeks of job-protected PAID leave for a “qualifying need related to a public health emergency” to employees who have been on the employer’s payroll for 30 calendar days.
“Qualifying needs” include:
- Adhering to a requirement or recommendation to quarantine due to exposure or symptoms of coronavirus;
- Caring for an at-risk member who is adhering to a requirement or recommendation to quarantine due to exposure to or symptoms of coronavirus; or
- Caring for a child of an employee if the child’s school or place of care has been close or the childcare provider is unavailable due to a coronavirus.
There is a 10-day waiting period before this benefit applies. Employees can use existing sick or vacation time to cover the 10-day waiting period. However, employers cannot force employees to use sick or vacation time to cover it (that time must be unpaid if the employee requests it). After the 10-day waiting period, employees will be paid for the leave in an amount equal to two-third of the employee’s usual rate of pay, with a cap of $200 per day and $10,000 total. You should note that, although called Family and Medical Leave (FMLA), this leave is different from traditional FMLA leave required by law pre-COVID-19.
Under the Act, employers must pay for both the sick leave and family and medical leave but will be provided refundable tax credits against their employer portion of Social Security taxes for 100% of the qualified sick leave and family leave wages paid in accordance with the Act.