Top Takeaways from the Family First Coronavirus Response Act

Please note: This blog is current to the date of its publication, Friday, March 27. For additional updates or assistance navigating these uncertain times, please contact us or visit our SST COVID-19 resource page.

The recent acceleration of the global COVID-19 pandemic has created uncertainty amongst employees and executives in North Texas and beyond. On March 18, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) became law to guarantee sick time for those in need, expand unemployment benefits and ensure additional protections for healthcare workers as a result of the pandemic.  The new law will be in effect from April 1, 2020 to Dec. 31, 2020.

SST is committed to providing our clients and colleagues with up-to-date and accurate information regarding COVID-19’s economic impact. Below are our top takeaways from the FFCRA and what it means for our clients.

It affects employers with 1-500 employees.

Employers with fewer than 50 employees will only be able to opt out of providing paid leave if the U.S. Department of Labor determines that providing these benefits would jeopardize the viability of the business.

It establishes two types of paid leave.

Emergency Paid Sick Leave requires that employers must provide paid sick time if an employee is not able to work or telework for one of the of the following reasons:

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

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.

Finally, employers cannot require employees to use other paid leave before using the Emergency Sick Leave.

Paid Expanded Family and Medical Leave requires that employers must provide up to 10 weeks paidleave to any full or part-time employee who has been employed for a least 30 calendar days before they were impacted by COVID-19.

To qualify, the employee must be unable to work or telework due to need to care for a child due closing of schools, childcare facilities or other care program due to COVID-19. The employee can take up to 12 weeks leave, and the first 10 days (2 weeks) of that leave can be:

  • Unpaid
  • Paid using PTO/vacation benefits
  • Paid using Emergency Paid Sick Leave (above)

The remaining 10 weeks are paid at two-thirds of the employee’s regular rate, for the number of hours the employee would otherwise be scheduled to work. Finally, this leave is job-protected, meaning the employee must be restored to the same or an equivalent position upon their return to work.

It requires that employers post notice.

Employers must post notice of the new Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Paid Expanded Family and Medical Leave. A model posting notice and employer FAQ sheet is available here

Information is being released daily by the Department of Labor, and if navigating any of these changes is daunting, SST is here to help. Connect with a trusted advisor by contacting us today.

Thanks to SST team member Malisia Vrana for providing the content for this blog post.