Families First Coronavirus Response Act

As many of you know, on March 18, 2020, President Trump signed H.R. 6201 – the Families First Coronavirus Response Act – into law.  I have spent most of the day with my clients answering questions about the changes.

To help us all navigate the changes, we have compiled a high-level overview for business owners dealing with the effects of COVID-19.

Please understand that as I write this, the situation is evolving and changing. As I was double checking my facts, I found updates posted an hour ago that were different from what I read this morning. Lightning Speed!

Various governmental agencies will continue to provide guidance and clarification, as will professionals in the field. I know I have received several newsletters today, trying to translate all of the nuances for H.R. 6201.

If you have any specific situations related to your business or employees, please schedule a call with me using this link.  Click here to book your appointment with Wendy

Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act

Effective April 2 through December 31, 2020

This provision expands current FMLA guidelines. Here are a few key elements.

  • Employer Threshold: The coronavirus-related sections are applicable to all private employers with fewer than 500 employees
  • Eligible Employee: The term ‘eligible employee’ means an employee who has been on the payroll for 30 calendar days by the employer with whom they are requesting the coronavirus related leave
  • In addition to regular FMLA provisions:
    • The new bill has been expanded to include a qualifying need related to a public health emergency.
      • This qualifying need is limited to circumstances where an employee is unable to work (or telework) due to a need to care for a minor child if the child’s school or place of child care has been closed or is unavailable due to a public health emergency
  • Duration: FMLA leave is 12 weeks.
  • Compensation: The first 10 days of FMLA can be unpaid. An employee can opt to use available sick time or PTO/vacation, if they have it available.
    • The remaining FMLA leave is paid, at a rate of 2/3 of the employee’s regular rate of pay (for the number of hours the employee normally works per week) up to $200 per day (or $10,000 total).
  • FMLA protects job protecting.
    • This means the employer must restore the employee to their prior position (or an equivalent) upon the expiration of their need for leave.
      • Unless the company has fewer than 25 employees and the job no longer exists due to COVID-19. 

Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act

Effective April 2 through December 31, 2020

This provision provides for two weeks of mandatory paid sick leave for COVID-19-related events. Here are a few key elements.

  • Employer Threshold: Applicable to all private employers with fewer than 500 employees
  • Qualified Employees: Leave is available to all employees for immediate use, regardless of how long they have been employed.
  • Sick leave is available for employees for the following uses:
    • 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 a medical diagnosis.
    • The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to an order or has been advised as above.
    • The employee is caring for a son or daughter of such employee if the school or place of care of the son or daughter has been closed, or the childcare provider of such son or daughter is unavailable, due to COVID-19 precautions.
  • Duration:
    • Full time employees receive 80 hours of leave
    • Part-time employees get the equivalent of the average number of hours they work in two weeks.
    • There is no carry-over – the sick time ends when the employee returns to work.
  • Existing Policies: Emergency paid sick time under the Act is in addition to existing paid sick leave under employers’ existing policies and Arizona state law.
    • Employees may use this paid time before any other paid time off
    • Employers may not force employees to use other paid time off first (i.e., this time is cumulative to any other paid time off policies).
  • Compensation: Employees are entitled to this leave at their regular rate of pay, at a minimum of Arizona’s current minimum wage ($12.00/hr.),  up to $511/day; except that employees who use this time to care for a family member or child may be paid at a rate of 2/3 their regular rate of pay or minimum wage, up to $200/day.
  • Limits: Employers are prohibited from discharging or discriminating against employees using leave

For both the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, the following apply:

  • The law grants the Secretary of Labor the authority to issue regulations exempting:
    • (1) certain health care providers and emergency responders from taking leave under the bill; and
    • (2) small business with fewer than 50 employees from the requirements of the bill if it would jeopardize the viability of the business
  • Tax credits are available to employers (No information is currently available on how to apply for this credit at this time)
  • Employer should document as payments not “wages”