Families First Legislation
Update as of March 26, 2020:
On March 18, 2020, President Trump signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). This law goes into effect on April 2, 2020 and will remain through December 31, 2020. Additional guidance and information will continue to flow throughout the next few weeks in order to provide mechanics for implementation of these provisions.
This act is meant to support employees as we face the implications of the virus, and includes testing, leave, and unemployment insurance. Health plans will be required to offer free COVID-19 testing with no cost sharing. There is paid emergency leave available for both sick and family leave. Unemployment insurance has been expanded, providing nearly $1 billion in state grants to cover processing and paying unemployment insurance. An example of this enhanced benefit includes some states waiving initial waiting periods. Texas and Colorado have already taken this action.
Employers will be responsible for paying the wages associated with these benefits. Reimbursement will come to the employer in the form of a quarterly payroll tax credit. The refundable tax credit will cover 100 percent of qualified sick and family leave wages paid. The timing of this reimbursement plan may pose a challenge for many employers from a cash flow perspective. To combat that strain, the US Treasury Department is working through a plan that may provide some alternative avenues for more timely reimbursements.
In accordance with the Act, employers with fewer than 500 employees must offer the paid sick and family leave benefits. There are limited exemptions to these mandates. For instance, the Secretary of Labor may exempt certain employers with less than 50 employees if compliance would jeopardize the viability of the business. In addition, certain healthcare providers and emergency responders may be excluded.
Paid Sick Leave
The Paid Sick Leave policy allows two weeks, up to 80 hours, of paid sick leave benefits to employees who can’t work or telework under qualifying circumstances.
- Government-issued quarantine or isolation
- Medical provider recommendation for self-quarantine
- Symptomatic of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis
- Caring for an individual in quarantine or isolation
- Caring for a child whose school or place of care has been closed or the provider is unavailable due to COVID-19
- Any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of Labor and Treasury
- $511 per day (paid at their regular rate or the applicable minimum wage) for reasons listed above around quarantine and diagnosis
- $200 a day (paid at 2/3 their regular rate or 2/3 the applicable minimum wage) when reasons listed above regarding caring for someone else
- A full-time employee is eligible for up to 80 hours of leave, a part-time employee is eligible for leave for the number of hours normally scheduled to work over that period
Paid Family Leave
The Paid Family Leave policy provides up to 12 weeks of leave for employees who can’t work or telework due to a minor child’s school or childcare closure due to a public health emergency. The first ten days are covered by the paid sick leave provision of the FFCRA.
- Covers full-time and part-time employees
- On payroll for at least 30 days
- Paid at no less than 2/3 of employee’s regular rate
- Capped at $200 per day ($10,000 total)
- Part-time employee pay is based on an average of hours over their normal 2-week period or previous 6 months’ average if their hours vary
We will continue to provide updates as they are available so you can make the best decisions for your business in the coming months.
For more information regarding the COVID-19 crisis, stay informed with our list of critical business resources.
As more information becomes available, we will regularly update this page.
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