March 31, 2020
This article was written by Attorney John Rather
In light of the tremendous consequences to business and individuals associated with the growth of the coronavirus COVID-19 (“Coronavirus”), Neider & Boucher, S.C. has recently published numerous materials which can easily be found on our website’s COVID Response Resource List. Because the lessons learned by some could be invaluable for others, we will continue to try to address and share those lessons with our clients and our community.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201) (FFCRA), signed into law March 18th, represents Congress’s initial efforts to address the impact of the coronavirus COVID-19 (“Coronavirus”) on many Americans. It includes nutritional assistance to vulnerable Americans, reduces financial barriers to Coronavirus testing, additional funding for state unemployment insurance programs, and, most important to small and mid-size businesses, mandates that most small and medium-size businesses provide two new forms of paid leave to their employees for Coronavirus-related absences.
What’s in the new law:
- up to 2 weeks of paid sick leave for employees forced to miss work for certain Coronavirus-related reasons;
- enhanced FMLA leave for employees who are unable to work because they are caring for a child whose school or childcare is closed due to Coronavirus;
- waiver of copayments for Coronavirus testing;
- additional financial support for state unemployment insurance programs; and
- additional funding for SNAP and other nutritional support programs.
This article addresses the two new forms of employee leave mandated for certain employers:
- Emergency Paid Sick Leave: up to 80 hours of paid sick leave for employees who are forced to miss work for certain Coronavirus-related reasons, to care for a family member with Coronavirus or to care for children whose school or daycare is closed due to Coronavirus or whose normal child care provider is not available due to Coronavirus.
- Public Health Emergency Leave: an enhanced form of FMLA leave available to employees who must miss work in order to care for their children where regular child care/schooling is interrupted by the Coronavirus. Like traditional FMLA leave, the first 14 days are unpaid (but Emergency Paid Sick Leave may be used for these two weeks if applicable). However, unlike traditional FMLA, qualifying leave beyond 14 days is paid at 2/3 of the employee’s normal rate of pay.
Who it applies to:
Employers with less than 500 employees. Employers with fewer than 50 employees may be eligible for exemption from these requirements based on criteria to be set by the Department of Labor.
The requirements take effect April 1, 2020 and expire at the end of 2020 unless extended by Congress.